Privatization of prisons

Other Names:
Inadequately supervised private correctional facilities

A private prison, or for-profit prison, is a place where people are imprisoned by a third party that is contracted by a government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate, either for each prisoner in the facility, or for each place available, whether occupied or not. Such contracts may be for the operation only of a facility, or for design, construction and operation.


In Australia, the UK and the USA, among other countries, state authorities are turning with increasing frequency to private corporations to operate correctional facilities. Plans have been announced to extend this approach to Africa, Asia and Latin America. The experience in the USA suggests that the record of private operators is uneven with regard to the treatment of prisons and prisoner conditions, including adherence to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Governments may fail to exercise appropriate monitoring and oversight. There have been troubling cases of rampant and flagrant mistreatment (e.g. beatings, excessive use of force or chemical agents, sexual misconduct, and unsanitary conditions) undetected by government agents, or leading to no action.

Privatizing prisons
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST