When comparing the accountability of the public and private sectors of the prison industry, there are three main possibilities: that public prisons are more accountable; that private and public systems are equally accountable; and that private prisons are more accountable. Wherever privatization has occurred, monitoring mechanisms have been created as a putative add-on to general accountability mechanisms which apply to the public sector prison system. Undoubtedly, the objective has been to make the private system more accountable than the public system, not less. Learmont (1995: 106), reporting on the escapes from Parkhurst prison, certainly saw it that way:
Such arrangements [monitoring] raise the question of whether the problems at Whitemoor and Parkhurst would ever have arisen if the Prison Service had the same monitoring and audit arrangements as are compulsory for the private sector. Through this mechanism, performance standards in private prisons are kept under review, with the result that they are maintained at a high level. In comparison with the public sector prisons, private prisons demonstrate the advantages of … continuous audit on site.