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The Effectiveness of Juvenile Correctional Facilities: Public versus Private Management


  • Patrick Bayer

    () (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • David E. Pozen


This paper uses data on juvenile offenders released from correctional facilities in Florida to explore the effects of facility management type (private for-profit, private nonprofit, public state-operated, and public county-operated) on recidivism outcomes and costs. The data provide detailed information on individual characteristics, criminal and correctional histories, judge-assigned restrictiveness levels, and home zipcodes—allowing us to control for the non-random assignment of individuals to facilities far better than any previous study. Relative to all other management types, for-profit management leads to a statistically significant increase in recidivism, but, relative to nonprofit and state-operated facilities, for-profit facilities operate at a lower cost to the government per comparable individual released. Costbenefit analysis implies that the short-run savings offered by for-profit over nonprofit management are negated in the long run due to increased recidivism rates, even if one measures the benefits of reducing criminal activity as only the avoided costs of additional confinement.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bayer & David E. Pozen, 2003. "The Effectiveness of Juvenile Correctional Facilities: Public versus Private Management," Working Papers 863, Economic Growth Center, Yale University, revised Nov 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:863

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, David A, 1999. "The Aggregate Burden of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 611-642, October.
    2. Kenneth Avio, 1998. "The Economics of Prisons," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 143-175, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hall, Maximilian J.B. & Liu, Wenbin B. & Simper, Richard & Zhou, Zhongbao, 2013. "The economic efficiency of rehabilitative management in young offender institutions in England and Wales," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 38-49.
    2. Andersson, Fredrik & Jordahl, Henrik, 2011. "Outsourcing Public Services: Ownership, Competition, Quality and Contracting," Working Paper Series 874, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    3. Lindqvist, Erik, 2011. "Planned treatment and outcomes in residential youth care: Evidence from Sweden," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 21-27, January.
    4. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2009. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-147.
    5. Yazzie, Rebecca A., 2011. "Availability of treatment to youth offenders: Comparison of public versus private programs from a national census," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 804-809, June.
    6. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:43-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:bla:ausecr:v:49:y:2016:i:4:p:515-523 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Yu XIA, 2012. "What’s the Role of Schools in Juvenile Crime?," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 2(4), pages 97-114, August.

    More about this item


    Juvenile Crime; Juvenile Correctional Facilities; Recidivism; Prison Privatization; Provision of Public Goods: Nonprofit; For-profit; Public;

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior

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