Public Values

Privatization a very bad idea

Passing off public responsibility to private companies will make matters worse.

by Spring Hope Enterprise and the Bailey/Middlesex News, Spring Hope, NC

State officials and some lawmakers, concerned about the state's budget deficit, are looking at privatizing the state's probation and mental health systems, different services which share the misfortune of being understaffed, underfunded, and overwhelmed. They share something else: privatizing them would be a Really Bad Idea.

The state's probation system has been under fire since 2008 for being unable to keep track of thousands of probationers and parolees due largely to a lack of parole officers, poor coordination with both the courts and other law enforcement agencies, and inadequate and outdated technology.

The state's mental health system has become a total mess thanks to a poorly conceived and even more poorly executed attempt at reform under the Easley administration – a one-two punch of downsizing the state mental hospitals which were still needed and outsourcing local and effective public mental health programs to less effective, and in some counties non-existent, private care. The state also wasted millions of mental health dollars on ineffective and poorly monitored private care programs.

As the state struggles with budget deficits in the poor economy, some officials think that passing off the state's responsibility to private companies will help solve the problems of both systems. What it would do, though, is make matters worse....

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Posted: May 31, 2010

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