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Resolutions & Amendments

26th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (1984)

Contracting Out of Correctional Institutions

Resolution No. 147
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


Deteriorating prison facilities and rapidly increasing prison populations have created such an urgent demand for additional cell space that state and local governments have found it nearly impossible to provide the necessary cell space to house their inmate populations; and


According to the Attorney General's Task Force on Violent Crime, in over one-half of the states, a federal judge has ruled that it is unconstitutional to house prisoners in at least one facility because of sub-standard conditions of the facility; and


As a result of the Reagan Administration's philosophy of shifting the responsibilities of government from the federal to the state and local level, and the corresponding cuts in federal transfer payments, state and local governments are faced with the increasingly difficult problem of funding essential social services and necessary capital projects with limited sources of revenue; and


Private, profit-oriented firms, anxious to take advantage of this crisis have aggressively approached public officials with "quick fix" financing schemes which promise to add additional prison space without the accompanying enormous financial burdens; and


The U.S. Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Naturalization Service have already established a precedent by using outside contractors to build and operate several new correctional facilities. As a result, several states are considering the privatization of correctional institutions as a viable solution to their overcrowding and financial problems; and


Past experience with the private delivery of public services has, in many cases, resulted in higher costs, poorer services, decreased accountability, and increased corruption. In addition, the privatization of correctional institutions necessarily creates an inherent conflict of interest between the desire for profits and the desire to rehabilitate inmates. This contracting out reduces quality and efficiency of service, lessens public control and will undoubtedly result in public employees loss of jobs and dignity to say nothing of union busting.


That AFSCME commit its strength and resources to combat the contracting out of correctional, parole and probation services and to force federal, state, and local governments to maintain their responsibilities for the incarceration and rehabilitation of those individuals who violate the laws of society; and


That AFSCME continue to support federal legislation that would provide financial assistance to state and local governments for the construction of new facilities, the implementation of new programs, adequate staffing and safe working conditions.


John W. Burke
Executive Director
Council 82
Albany, New York