As cities and states across the nation face a financial crisis, governments have to find ways to trim their budgets. In Michigan, state employees fear that their jobs may be eliminated if the prisons are outsourced to a private company. Nearly 2,000 state employees would be affected, from social workers to plumbers (Bloomberg, 2/15/2011).
An area where privatization seems likely is in the Michigan Department of Corrections food service departments. Currently Michigan only spends under $3.00 per day to feed each inmate but privatizing the department could save more money. The proposed changes would eliminate 300 full time state jobs and save the state nearly $9.5 million dollars. Currently the Michigan Department of Corrections employees disagree with the decision to privatize fearing it will cause increased institutional violence (Michigan American Independent, 5/25/2011). About $70 million dollars is expected to be cut from the $2 billion dollar budget (Michigan WLNS, 5/25/2011).
In 2009, several employees and inmates were injured in a riot at a Kentucky prison following the privatization of the institution’s food service department. In 2001, Florida also experienced problems after privatizing its institutional; food service departments. Poor food quality and inadequate service conditions plagued the department for years (Michigan American Independent, 5/25/2011).
Currently Pennsylvania has on privatized prison, which is located in Delaware County. It is run by Community Education Centers, a New Jersey based company (Lancaster Intelligence Journal, 6/16/2011).
Despite the need to trim the state budget in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett stated that he would oppose privatizing state prisons as a way to raise money. He stated that he would look into privatizing other state services (Allentown Morning Call, 2/14/2011).