Houston Matters

Are Privatized Prisons A Good Idea?

Earlier this month, allegations of sexual abuse surfaced at a South Texas detention center for mothers and children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America. The Karnes City facility is run by a private, for-profit operator based in Florida, which strongly denies the allegations. The claims come four months after the ACLU issued a report alleging thousands of non-citizens are […]

Earlier this month, allegations of sexual abuse surfaced at a South Texas detention center for mothers and children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America. The Karnes City facility is run by a private, for-profit operator based in Florida, which strongly denies the allegations. The claims come four months after the ACLU issued a report alleging thousands of non-citizens are subjected to abuse and dangerous conditions in privately-run federal prisons in Texas. The report described overcrowding, squalid conditions and insufficient medical care.

Privatized detention facilities and prisons bring both potential benefits and liabilities. Promises of cost, efficiency, and service draw states like Texas to use them under certain circumstances. But those promises aren’t always met, and allegations of abuse underscore concerns about a lack of transparency and oversight.

We discuss the history of private prisons in the state, and consider the pros and cons of their use. And we hear from the city manager of Littlefield, Texas about that town’s experience with a privately-run prison.

Share