They ought to be privatized. For the same reason that private schools are better than public ones, private prisons COULD be much better. And by “better,” I mean that they would churn out more reformed and successful inmates. And that’s the key: the States could make a law giving the contracts for private prisons to those prisons (or corporations) whose inmates have the lowest recidivism rates. That will make it a competition between prison administrations for releasing successful ex-cons. Make the bottom line about that, and I think everyone wins.