The privatization of any institution often results in a decline of the quality of service to the individuals that it is supposed to serve. This is especially apparent in the case of the criminal justice system. As the privatization of prisons has been a lucrative opportunity for many corporations, it has also become a burden to the victims of the criminal justice system.
In an article by The Guardian, there is a discussion on the decision by the UK Ministry of Justice to privatize its prisoner rehabilitation and probational resources and the harmful results it has garnered. Because of the privatization of these sectors, ex-prisoners are finding themselves facing difficult circumstances such as homelessness, lack of job and career support, and other difficult situations that complicate their lives post-release, many times resulting in reoffending.
Statistics show that the percentage of ex-prisoners being released into homelessness has increased since 2016. “The overall proportion of offenders released into homelessness was up by 12 percent over the past year, calling into question the effectiveness of the government’s promises to rehabilitate prisoners,” the article stated.
As homelessness is the leading cause for reoffense among ex-prisoners, it seems as though there should be added resources to combat releasing prisoners into conditions that could result in them returning to prison.
A large criticism of private probation firms is the lack of face-to-face communication between ex-offenders and their probation officers. Many of the check-in meetings are administered via phone calls every six months and are not regulated by the severity of the crimes of the ex-offenders or evaluation of their potential for violent crimes. This practice, in addition to the ones that release prisoners into potentially dangerous situations, can affect the safety of both the ex-offenders and the larger community.
The lack of support for the firms’ clients brings up an important conversation of how the privatization of these prisoner rehabilitation practices are possibly designed to reinforce and serve the privatized prison industrial system. The lack of resources provided to prisoners after they have been released may be intentionally designed to lead them back into the prison system, as the corporations that fund these prisons make profit based off of the number of prisoners they hold.
In a statement made by a representative of the Ministry of Justice, it was expressed that there are not many procedures in place to aid ex-female offenders, but there exists the prospect of incorporating more resources for women into the procedures that are already in place. “We will also shortly be bringing forward a strategy for female offenders aimed at improving outcomes for women in the community and custody, to add to the support already in place,” said the statement.
Since there are little resources for rehabilitating female offenders, these unsuccessful rehabilitation services can disproportionately affect women of color, resulting in their re-entry into the prison industrial system.
The privatization of prisoner rehabilitation will inevitably benefit the corporations that fund the programs more than it will benefit the ex-prisoners who rely on them. As female offenders of color are targeted at higher rates for these oppressive practices of re-entry, perhaps the responsibilities should fall onto parties who genuinely want to help prisoners turn their lives around.
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