Private Prisons House More Latinos Than Do Public Ones, Study Finds : Code Switch : NPR: In March, Rina Palta reported for Code Switch on a study that found private prisons were disproportionately filled with inmates of color. A broader recent study of federal data from 2005 has revealed something similar: The proportion of white inmates was significantly smaller in private prisons than in public ones, and the proportion of Latino inmates was larger.
An inmate walks through the yard at the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, which recently switched to private management.
Brett Burkhardt, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, authored the study. It lands amidst an ongoing debate over how private prisons compare to their public counterparts, in everything from cost-effectiveness to quality of service. If inmates in private prisons were found to have received worse treatment, the study points out, a racial disparity between private and public prison populations could have legal implications.
Burkhardt told me in a phone interview that while there's now a robust and growing body of scholarly literature looking at racial disparities across the U.S. prison system, his study is among the first empirically rigorous analyses of who is being placed into private prisons