Resolved: For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.

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Resolved:For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.

I’m not sure how I feel about this topic. On the one hand, I think the “real world” debate surrounding for-profit prisons is quite boring. The theoretical debate about human rights and the principles of fair retribution is quite interesting, though. The debates on this topic may not necessarily have direct clash, so debaters should probably focus on having solid frameworks in place which explain the importance of the points they’re making. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the topic.


For profit prisons – A for-profit prison is a private prison that is contracted by the government for imprisoning people. Private prisons charge fees for the internment of prisoners, and so, are free to make profits and distribute those profits as they choose. Because they are private, these prisons are often better funded and of higher quality than government prisons. That being said, being private means they aren’t necessarily subject to the same rules as regulations as government prisons. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t be subject to those same rules. It’s important to note that it is not up to the debaters to defend the status quo of private prisons, which is why the theoretical points can be particularly effective for this topic.

Should – We all know what this word means, but it’s important to call it out because it will define the framework of the case for this topic. Debaters must first determine how a government/society decides what it should do. Is the economic impact the driving motivator? Or is it something else, like considerations of human rights?

Case Positions


1. Human Dignity – Even though these people are prisoners, they are still human beings who deserve to serve their sentences with dignity. Private prisons result in people being treated entirely as commodities. They are tools used by the prisons to make profits, and people shouldn’t be used strictly as tools for profit. It is akin to a slave trade in which human beings are simply commodities.

2. Inappropriate Lobby – Private prisons rely on incarceration to make their money. If people don’t go to jail, private prisons don’t make money. This opens up an entirely new avenue for corruption and lobbying. There now exists an entity which will profit from an increase in crime, and it is inevitable that some parts of that entity will not be averse to doing what it takes to maximize those profits. Not to mention, private prisons are free to charge “no crime” taxes to the government for unused cells or low occupancy rates, which also motivates the justice system to incarcerate more people.


1. Saving the Government Money – Private prisons often safe the government money. They are very low cost methods of incarcerating lower risk individuals that the government can ill afford to house like illegal immigrants and non-violent juvenile felons. Not only are the costs of running these prisons lower, but the government also doesn’t have to pay for their construction.

2. Higher Quality Prisons – Like with other things that aren’t run by the government, private prisons afford the opportunity for higher quality prisons. They allow for the implementation of techniques and facilities that the government cannot afford to implement on its own. Competition also spurs the development of higher quality. Private prisons must compete for government contracts, and whoever provides a better product is going to get the money.

That should help get you started. Good luck!


4 responses to “Resolved: For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.

  1. spelling error in con case paragraph 1 sentence 1. sorry to be “that guy” i just noticed it and i like your sight so i didn’t want it to look unprofessional

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