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Private Prisons and the New Marketplace for Crime

Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, Forthcoming

34 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2016 Last revised: 8 Jul 2016

andré douglas pond cummings

The John Marshall Law School

Adam Lamparello

Indiana Tech - Law School

Date Written: June 10, 2016


A saner and safer prison policy in the United States begins by ending the scourge of the private prison corporation and returning crime and punishment to public function. We continue by radically reimagining our sentencing policies and reducing them significantly for non-violent crimes. We end the War on Drugs, once and for all, and completely reconfigure our drug and prison policy by legalizing and regulating marijuana use and providing health services to addicts of harder drugs and using prison for only violent drug kingpins and cartel bosses. We stop the current criminalization of immigration in its tracks and block the private prison lobby from influencing legislation in our current immigration policy debates. We provide prisoners a fair wage for work done in prison, allowing them a re-entry account upon release filled with the money they earned while working in prison. We provide humane and habitable prison cells populated by one inmate, as saner and safer crime and punishment policies will imprison far fewer American citizens.

At their core, private prisons reflect a continuation of policies that have tainted the criminal justice system with perceptions of arbitrariness, unfairness, and injustice. As this article has shown, the continued proliferation of private prisons does not save taxpayers money, increase prison safety, or elevate the conditions of the prison environment. Conversely, they do the opposite. Inmates are being physically abused, denied medical care, and forced to endure inhumane living conditions, as corporations like CCA and GEO Group realize higher profits from a marketplace in which prisoners are in high demand. Indeed, CCA is a textbook example of the grave injustices that can occur when profit maximization clashes with human dignity. The time has arrived for private prisons to be eliminated and for legislators and courts to realize that this experiment is one that has failed. Until that time comes, Congress should implement purpose-driven reforms to ensure that private prisons can no longer be institutions where inmates have rights but no remedies.

Keywords: private prisons, civil rights, the war on drugs, constitutional law

JEL Classification: K14; K42

Suggested Citation

cummings, andré douglas pond and Lamparello, Adam, Private Prisons and the New Marketplace for Crime (June 10, 2016). Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

André Douglas pond Cummings

The John Marshall Law School ( email )

315 South Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Adam Lamparello (Contact Author)

Indiana Tech - Law School ( email )

1600 E. Washington Blvd.
Ft. Wayne, IN 46803
United States

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