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Kicking the National Habit: The Legal and Policy Arguments for Abolishing Private Prison Contracts

Lucas Anderson

George Washington University - Law School

January 10, 2010

Privatization overall negatively impacts the treatment, rehabilitation, and care of prisoners, indicating that the market-driven business model is fundamentally incompatible with an effective and humane corrections system. There are several reasons for this tension. First, private prison companies are primarily profit-seeking entities, working to reduce costs wherever possible. Cost-cutting measures promote inferior contract performance, undue safety risks, and poor delivery of inmate services. The profit motive also encourages private prison companies to disregard the principles of inmate rehabilitation and criminal deterrence; if advanced, these principles would undermine profits and reduce the demand for these companies’ services. Finally, to expand their markets, private prison operators are exhorted to advance harsh criminal sentencing policies and to dilute early-release, parole, and good-behavior programs within their facilities. All of these market-based incentives, as applied to the field of corrections, operate to the detriment of the Government, prison inmates, and society as a whole.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Private Prisons, Criminal Justice, Privatization, Human Rights, Public Contracts, Government Contracts

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Date posted: January 11, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Lucas, Kicking the National Habit: The Legal and Policy Arguments for Abolishing Private Prison Contracts (January 10, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1534372 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1534372

Contact Information

Lucas Anderson (Contact Author)
George Washington University - Law School ( email )
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