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Question about prisons

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Hey there,

I was arguing with someone about free markets online and we got on to the topic of fraud.

He brought up this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal as proof that private prisons are a bad idea as they lead to more corruption and fraud.

He then said this:

"Private prisons make better profits the more prisoners they receive. Therefore, it is in their best interests to encourage more criminals into the system. They may do this via a number of ways. One might be bribing judges to give harsher penalties for lesser crimes.

A state-owned prison makes no profits, and therefore is not driven to encourage more criminals. Such a situation as described above is less likely to happen in a state run and owned system."

I'm having a bit of trouble replying. I did bring up the fact that in the kids for cash scandal, the fraudulent criminals were punished however his points were that a private prison allows for that sort of thing to happen more often.

I'm sure there is examples of corruption and fraud in state-owned prison system however I don't know of any examples.

Any help would be appreciated.

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Yeah, I did mention that. However his argument is that it would happen more often in a private prison.

Would I be right in saying that in a true free market system where government funding for the court system is done voluntary, it would include prisons as part of that voluntarily funded judicial system?

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Sounds like his problem is with judges, who apparently are open to being bribed in vast numbers, not with private prisons. I'm not in favor of private prisons, but I disagree that the possibility of judges being bribed is a counter-argument. If judges can be bribed, that would definitely mean less prisoners, not more, since many criminals would be happy to pay up and avoid jail time. Either that or, in his universe, criminals are somehow more scrupulous than corporations. That wouldn't surprise me, most liberals are more concerned with the "evil" of selfishness than with the evil of criminality.

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Private prisons are tricky. They're not operating in a free market. Their only customer is the government, so whether private prisons do a better job than public prisons or not is purely dependent on whether the government monitors their relationships with independent contractors better than they do their relationships with their own employees. And that's questionable.

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