Hustle and Flow: Prison Privatization Fueling the Prison Industrial Complex

29 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2013

See all articles by Patrice A. Fulcher

Patrice A. Fulcher

Maryland Office of The Public Defender

Date Written: July 2, 2012


The Prison Industrial Complex (“PIC”) is a profiteering system fueled by the economic interests of private corporations, federal and state correctional institutions, and politicians. The PIC grew from ground fertilized by an increase in the U.S. prison population united with an economically depressed market, stretched budgets, and the ineffective allocation of government resources. The role of the federal, state, and local governments in the PIC has been to allocate resources. This is the first of a series of articles exploring issues surrounding the PIC, including (1) prison privatization, (2) outsourcing the labor of prisoners for profit, and (3) constitutional misinterpretations.

The U.S. prison population increased in the 1980s, in part, because of harsh drug and sentencing laws and the racial profiling of Blacks. When faced with the problem of managing additional inmates, U.S. correctional institutions looked to the promise of private prison companies to house and control inmates at reduced costs. The result was the privatization of prisons, private companies handling the management of federal and state inmates.

This Article addresses how the privatization of prisons helped to grow the PIC and the two ways in which governments’ expenditure of funds to private prison companies amount to an inefficient allocation of resources: (1) it creates an incentive to increase the prison population, which led to a monopoly and manipulation of the market by Correction Corporation of America (“CCA”) and The GEO Group, Inc. (“GEO”), the top two private prison companies, and (2) it supports the use of Blacks as property, which in turn prevents Blacks from participating in future economic activities because they are labeled as felons.

This Article first discusses how the increased prison population led to the allocation of government resources to prison privatization. Second, it establishes how funding private prison companies helped to develop the PIC into an economic, for-profit “hustle” for the involved partners and stakeholders, herein after referred to as players. Third, it makes it easy to see the “flow” of inequities stemming from the “hustle” and how they are the result of inefficient allocation of government resources. Finally, in order to stop the “hustle” and change the “flow” of inequities, this Article calls for a moratorium on the privatization of U.S. prisons, the end of private prison companies, and a change in drug sentencing laws in order to reduce the prison population.

Keywords: private prisons, prison privitization, mass incarceration, prison industrial complex, Corrections Corporation of America, The GEO Group, war on drugs, sentencing disparities, racial profiling, allocation of government resources, ineffective allocation of government resources

Suggested Citation

Fulcher, Patrice, Hustle and Flow: Prison Privatization Fueling the Prison Industrial Complex (July 2, 2012). Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 51, No. 3, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Patrice Fulcher (Contact Author)

Maryland Office of The Public Defender ( email )

6 St. Paul Street
Suite 1400
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics