Letter to the Editor

Public-private prison partnerships work


The April 28 op-ed column by The Blade’s deputy editorial page editor, Jeff Gerritt, “Ohio shouldn’t gamble on private prisons,” ignores the significant benefits of corrections public-private partnerships.

Mr. Gerritt wrongly suggests that private operators don’t have an incentive to provide rehabilitative services that help offenders reintegrate into society. Private operators have been found to provide equal or greater rehabilitation programming.

In 2012, an independent review by the Florida Chamber of Commerce found that private facilities had a better staff-to-inmate ratio to provide rehabilitation services (1 per 38 in private facilities compared to 1 per 272 in public prisons) and a higher percentage of participation by inmates in rehabilitation programs (nearly 80 percent in private correctional facilities compared to 21 percent in public facilities).

Mr. Gerritt also presents an unfair portrayal of GEO Group’s extensive track record of high-quality operations and industry-leading practices. GEO has had long-standing and successful partnerships with the federal government and several states dating to the company’s founding in 1984.

In Michigan, GEO partnered with the state Department of Corrections to develop and finance a state-of-the-art facility that was accredited by the American Correctional Association, the leading independent correctional accreditation entity in the United States. The facility provided high-quality services and programs.

According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Michigan Department of Corrections estimated that the facility at 450 beds (its original size) saved between $2.5 million and $6.9 million annually.

For close to three decades, public-private partnerships have achieved significant savings for taxpayers in states while improving the quality of services and program outcomes in correctional, detention, and residential treatment facilities.

Vice PresidentCorporate Relations GEO Group Inc. Boca Raton, Fla.