It costs $69 a day to house inmates in Colorado's prisons and jails, which has given rise to an increasing trend toward turning the system over to private companies. However, studies indicate that per-prisoner costs at private jails are really not much lower -- but the toll on prisoners who are sent out-of-state is great indeed (see cover story beginning on page 15). And where does it end? Why not schools, or hospitals?
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Should we privatize the prison system? Everybody's entitled to make a living, and I don't like the way the government manages its money. A corporation motivated by profit is going to do a better job.
Should schools be run like businesses? Yes. Teachers aren't motivated to improve because it's almost impossible for them to lose their jobs once they're tenured. They need more incentive to better themselves.
Should hospitals be privatized? Health care is a tougher question. People deserve health care, but it's unbelievably expensive to maintain the technology and keep up the research. To be consistent, I'd say that hospitals should be run like businesses, too.
What is the states' responsibility toward its prisoners? Prisoners don't need steak and lobster, but they should be treated humanely and safely. And I think the emphasis should shift from incarceration to rehabilitation. Our prisons are overcrowded with prisoners who committed nonviolent -- often drug- related -- crimes.
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What's your read on turning prisons into profit-making ventures? The intent of incarceration should be correction, not profit. If the prison system were turned over to business, the incentive would be for more prisons and less correction.
What is the responsibility of the state toward its prisoners? To provide a safe environment and offer rehabilitation and recovery from drug and substance abuse.
Should public education be privatized? No, but the role of the National Education Association should be reduced. Unions have their own interests in mind, not the best interests of the people they're supposed to be serving.
Should hospitals be privatized? That's a harder question.
Why? What's the difference between privatizing schools and hospitals? Hmmm ... that's a good question.
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What's the state's responsibility toward its prisoners? To keep them under humane and safe conditions.
Is the trend to turn prisons into profit-driven businesses a good idea? If it can reduce costs and keep quality high, it has the potential to work, but we'd have to make sure that operating prisons for profit didn't compromise safe and humane conditions.
What about the practice of farming Colorado prisoners to Texas or Mississippi? I'm concerned about taking away the ability of prisoners to see their families on a regular basis.
Should public education be privatized? Placing education in the private sector would misconstrue education. That would be a move in the wrong direction. Education, of all things, must be protected at all costs.
How about hospitals? I'm not sure whether for-profit or public sector hospitals work better. It's the same tradeoff -- keeping costs down, but ensuring that the health-care level is maintained.