During the first term of the Clinton administration the number of people in prison first reached one million. In 1990 comparatively the number incarcerated in state and federal prisons was about 750,000. A report by the Bureau of Justice and a statistician said surprisingly that the rise wasn't because of longer prison sentences, it was for increased violence by white and drug use increase by blacks. One could consider the new technologies of cell phones and proliferation of automobiles as common infrastructure for new organized crime as well as the surge of Latino criminal gangs tied in to the over-the-border underworld. People learned to make their own meth in field cookeries all over the country also helping support non-rational criminal outbreaks.
The report goes on to say that most prisons were under court orders to limit over-crowding in prisons. After the cold war the United States tried to cut back on federal spending that had increased during the Reagan administration. Few in Congress were willing to spend to build more Federal prisons when the public debt was already trillions and trillions (it is now about 20 trillion dollars)
After the end of the cold war increasing the number of government workers in publicly financed prison wasn't popular as it would require increased taxation. This essay isn't the place to examine the public economics issues, yet privatization was more popular than increasing government bureaucracy during the 1990s right until the present day. It goes without saying that government, legislative and Executive management of the federal budget is never good. Philosophically speaking, politicians are quite unenlightened regarding economic philosophy and rely upon truisms and stereotype postures inspired by Ayn Rand or Karl Marx as the case may be.
The Clinton administration brought about the beginning of a covert-overt moral decay following atheism, evolution theory and moral relativism that brought youth toward maturity in an 'anything goes' social environment. The lessons of Dewey and Nietzsche were taken up by the broadcast media. In Sacramento not only did Rush Limbaugh start in broadcasting, at least one radio station played with calling itself radio Satan. There were numerous mass school shootings in the U.S.; previously mostly unheard of. Drug use around the nation was rampant. The baby boomers raised their kids to be a me generation. Tens of millions of illegal aliens were still surging into the U.S.A. during the late 80s and 90s. Globalism and a failure of patriotism, unconcern for the advantages and responsibilities of being an U.S. citizen were more tributaries to a river of anomie called by one scholar 'the age of fracture'. Minorities and rap culture occasionally regarded prison as a home away from home eschewing shoelaces outside the walls because they are forbidden inside the walls. Drug use and sales were regarded as ways for upward economic mobility, especially as good jobs were sent out of the nation and the Wall Street rich concentrated national wealth and served as examples of the philosophy of personal egoism ethically. Christian moral influence declined nationally for a number of reasons.
Private prisons or prisons for profit seem to fit in more with the political outlook of the nation today. They need not necessarily be bad or set up to just make a profit by increasing in-flow and cutting costs. If the judiciary and legislature require certain good contractual or empirical parameters for prisons to earn government contracts then they shall find a way to accomplish and cohere to those parameters. Private prisons can be in effect experimental corrections facilities more readily than a government establishment anyway. A new prison costs tens of millions just to build much less staff and in has a hard time changing its physical infrastructure once built. Private prisons alternatively can close with no cost to the public. The private sector can produce buildings at lower cost and satisfy well-written government contracts, with those able to win perhaps already possessing the right assets for the contracts before bidding. Private prisons may today have grave faults, yet that is more the fault of the government for not designing good theoretical corrections facilities that the private prison corporation must follow if it wants to have a contract.
One obvious parameter concerns correction and recidivism rates. Government can require low recidivism rates for private corrections contractors for renewal of contract.
The growth of iprisoners in private prisons both state and federal has begun a slow decline from its high around 2013 when approximately 135,000 people were held. The crime rate too has decline a bit since then.http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/11/u-s-private-prison-population-has-declined-in-recent...