Georgia's jail and prison population from 1978 to 2015
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Georgia’s Criminal Justice Reform: State VS Private Prisons

According to the results of an audit recently conducted, it costs less to house an inmate in a Georgia state prison ($44.56 per day) than in a privately run prison ($49.07 per day). But, are the savings worth it?

These numbers are not inclusive of some other costs, like the prison staff pensions. Terry England, the R-Auburn Rep says that he intends to look deeper into the numbers. He wants know whether it’s wise to expand the state prisons or the private prisons in Georgia.

Georgia's jail and prison population from 1978 to 2015
Georgia’s jail and prison population from 1978 to 2015. Image Source: Prison Policy

Georgia Audit: State Prisons vs Privately Run Prisons

Terry said the reason his committee requested the audit is so it could see whether there have been any changes in criminal justice. They also wanted to see if these changes have had any effect on the long-term projections for Georgia’s Prison Population.

The audit revealed that prison growth has been slow but is expected to grow. In the next next years, they expect an increase of 1,280 state inmates.

Terry says that the reason the number has decreased from 7,500 to 1,200 is because of the criminal justice reforms that are ongoing in Georgia.

In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal was sworn into office. At that time, 1 in every 13 Georgian was locked up, on parole or on probation. This was the highest the figures ever in the nation.

They faced the risk of spending $264 million to build two new prison facilities in the event there were no changes.

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Changes Made in Georgia’s Criminal Justice System

Georgia converted some of its felonies into misdemeanors. For example, they changed shoplifting felonies into misdemeanors with higher fines.

Also, there was a creation of new categories of punishment for those caught in possession of drugs. The crime has less severe punishments for offenders caught with small drug quantities.

These changes were responsible for keeping hundreds of nonviolent offenders out of prisons in Georgia.

The governor also ensured the expansion of accountability courts. These courts are to hear the cases of:

  • Veterans
  • Drug addicts
  • Juveniles
  • The mentally ill

A study showed that recidivism rates for the graduates of the accountability courts are about 10-15% less than those of the defendants that did not take part.

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How Much Do Georgia Prisons Cost Taxpayers?

Georgia state prisons have a budget of $1.2 billion a year. This is the same figure that was set when Deal was sworn in as governor.

In fiscal year 2018, Georgia DOC averaged 50,000 inmates a day. This includes those incarcerated in county jails, state and private prisons.

Tennessee–based CoreCivic and Florida-based GEO Group, two private prison companies, receive around $140 million a year to keep 15% of the state’s inmates.

This is double what was spent in private prisons 12 years ago.

The GEO Group says that they believe their costs would be lower if they did not have to count improving inmate rehabilitation.

CoreCvic spokesman said their contract grants Georgia the flexibility to adjust their inmate populations while they keep their costs set over a period of time.


It’s no surprise that it’s cheaper to house inmates in private prisons that state-ran facilities. Private correctional institutions provide inadequate healthcare, packaged food products not fit for stray animals and they provide NO rehabilitation services.

Without rehabilitation, most inmates will return. This brings them back to the private prisons, making companies like Geo Group and CoreCivic indefinitely rich. And, We The People, are falling for it.

Tina Karen
Tina Karen has been a lifestyle blogger for a while now. As she writes her many blog posts, she makes sure to highlight all the major points of interests rather than only emphasizing the areas she finds preferable. Tina possess a soft voice that comes in handy and enables her to do voice overs. She currently writes news articles for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network.