By Prison Legal News

The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) recently completed an evaluation of the effects of private prison confinement on offender recidivism. The evaluation assessed the impact of confinement at the Prairie Correctional Facility (PCF) in Appleton, Minnesota on recidivism among 3,532 offenders released between 2007 and 2009. The average follow-up period for the offenders in this study was 2.5 years.

Key Findings

• Private prison confinement was associated with a greater risk of recidivism in all 20 Cox regression models that were estimated. This association was statistically significant in 8 of the 20 models.

• All five private prison measures examined in this study significantly increased the risk of reconviction.

• Three private prison measures significantly increased the risk of rearrest.

• None of the private prison variables had an impact on either reincarceration measure (new offense and technical violation revocation).

• The findings suggest that the PCF produced slightly worse recidivism outcomes among the healthiest and best-behaved prisoners for the same amount of money. The recidivism results may be due to fewer visitation and rehabilitative programming opportunities for offenders confined at PCF.

Prior to 2010, when prison population growth created shortages in prison beds at state facilities, the DOC frequently housed some of its prisoners at the PCF. The facility, which opened in 1996, once held as many as 1,200 Minnesota state prisoners. Operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison company, the PCF closed in February 2010 due, in part, to slowed growth in Minnesota’s prison population, which minimized the need to transfer offenders to non-DOC facilities.

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