The Public Interest

What’s wrong with private prisons

John J. DiIulio, Jr.

Summer 1988

THIS YEAR Americans will spend an estimated $20 billion on convicted criminals. State corrections budgets have been soaring. In California, for example, corrections expenditures have been increasing at an average annual rate of 21 percent (vs. 8.5 percent for education and 4.5 percent for health and welfare). New Jersey appears to be headed for a corrections budget of $2.5 billion in the year 2000. Adjusted for inflation, this is more than all states combined spent on corrections in 1975, and more than New Jersey is projected to spend in the year 2000 on higher education—or any other program except primary and secondary education and Medicaid.

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