U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Contracting for Imprisonment in the Federal Prison System: Cost and Performance of the Privately Operated Taft Correctional Institution

NCJ Number
Douglas C. McDonald Ph.D.; Kenneth Carlson
Date Published
October 2005
173 pages
This study determined the cost-effectiveness of the implementation of a contract between the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation in 1997 to manage and operate a new government-owned, low-security correctional facility in Taft, CA.
The study compared the cost of contracting for the facility's operation compared to what the BOP would have spent if it had operated the facility directly during its first 5 years (fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2002). Performance under the contract was also examined for the first 6 1/2 years. The cost analyses indicated that the Federal Government's cost in contracting for the Taft Correctional Institution's operation was lower between fiscal years 1998 through 2002 compared to what the BOP would have spent in operating the prison directly. On the most comprehensive and detailed measures of performance under contract requirements, the private firm performed at levels above and beyond compliance with the contract. Since BOP-operated correctional facilities do not operate under contract agreements as does the Taft facility, a complete matched comparison of how Taft's operation compared with the operations of BOP-operated facilities could not be made; however, a comparison of selected performance indicators that are the same for Taft and other Federal prisons yielded a mixed result. On some measures the Taft facility was better than the average observed at BOP-operated low-security prisons, while on other performance measures Taft was worse than the average. On still other measures, performance was approximately the same. The performance measures on which comparisons were made pertained to population management, security and facility management, correctional leadership and effective public administration, and inmate programs and services. Extensive figures and tables

Date Published: October 1, 2005