Therefore imprisonment is based upon reprimanding violators of what society deems acceptable; it likewise protects society from being injured by those who would act against it, be that individual violence or widespread harm (such as embezzlement, terrorism, and so forth). Yet few people think beyond these simple tenets to realize the overall benefits of prisons to the community.
There are mixed opinions in the public about the benefits of prison placement. Proponents argue that prisons provide a boon to the economy, namely through construction, or security, food or medical employment within the prison itself. Opponents argue that these benefits fail to meet the original estimates: they claim the jobs never materialize and that the prison location can drop real estate value. The validity of both sides is difficult to prove and varies from case to case. What is proven is that the location of a prison invariably does improve local economy, even if the effects are slow to build and seemingly indirect. For the location of the prison community has become a concentrated surplus population that is now included in the federal census. Federal funds are allocated based directly on the results of this census, which means the more people in a given community, the more money available to the local government. While the prisoners may or may not be aware of there influence on the community, the community is receiving federal funds to improve roads, libraries, local constabulary, and public housing. In 2003, the U.S. General Accounting Office distributed some $140 billion dollars in grants largely based on the census. Aside from swelling local and state coffers, these funds also go to such services as social services, foster and adoption programs, and Medicaid Lawrence and Travis, 2004). Furthermore, population distribution directly affects political districts. With greater numbers, a community receives more political representations; with more representation a community has more voice over local concerns. Frequently, many of the issues concerned are most easily addressed by proving funds in relation to them another case of money flowing back into the community.
Against the argument that the boom in prison construction through the last several decades is eating up too much taxpayer money, the prison system has sought to alleviate unnecessary expenses in several ways. One of the most successful methods of the Justice Department has been to allow private companies to contract the daily operations of prisons rather than direct federal control. An example of this is the privately run California prison, the Taft Correctional Institute (TCI). The private contract has resulted in a savings of 6-10% of the allocated budget ( $9.6-16.5 million). TCI employees more people than comparable federal institutes but offers lower overall benefits. Health care has been determined to be the same level as federal prisons, and there have been a lower number of assaults at the private facility. There have been no homicides whatsoever. In addition, Taft operates in a fairly expensive area of the country; were it located elsewhere in the nation, the savings to taxpayers could potentially be even greater (Segal, 2005).
One of the biggest conflicts between the prison system and the private sector has related to work orders.