Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge (Issues in Crime and Justice)

Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge (Issues in Crime and Justice)

Donna Selman

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 1442201738

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Punishment for Sale is the definitive modern history of private prisons, told through social, economic and political frames. The authors explore the origin of the ideas of modern privatization, the establishment of private prisons, and the efforts to keep expanding in the face of problems and bad publicity. The book provides a balanced telling of the story of private prisons and the resistance they engendered within the context of criminology, and it is intended for supplemental use in undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology, social problems, and race & ethnicity.

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opportunity costs of funding an incarceration binge. The emphasis on building prisons made fewer programs available for prisoners already incarcerated, let alone creating new drug-treatment programs. During the 1990s, prisoner participation declined in educational, vocational or job, drug and alcohol, and prerelease programs (Vieraitis, Kovandzic, and Marvell 2007, 592). All these programs help make reintegration more successful and thus contribute to public safety by decreasing the likelihood of

conservative national politicians conflating civil rights protests, urban unrest, and crime into one problem that required “law and order” as a solution. Unfortunately, too few people thought to ask, whose law? And what social order is being upheld? Also, the flexible sentences that prospered under a system of rehabilitation gave way to more determinate ones. Because of the continued popularity of “tough on crime” and the continued election of conservatives espousing it, fixed sentences became

punishment to exact productivity. The practice of noncommunication with the outside served to shelter the public from the brutal conditions within the penitentiary, and the profits of the system satisfied the legislatures. Moreover, the contract labor system proved highly lucrative to prison administrators, whose control over the highly sought contracts gave them political and financial power. This contract labor flourished for nearly twenty years, until both businesses and emerging unions saw

claiming that these federal contracts could result in billions of dollars. Wall Street analysts agreed. “My fundamental belief is that this is a growth industry,” said Douglas McDonald, who works for First Analysis in Chicago (Zahn and Jones 2000). In 2002, CCA was rewarded again with a $103-mil-lion BOP criminal-alien contract to fill its struggling McRae Correctional Facility in Georgia (CCA Source 2003). The industry, thanks to its relationship with and access to federal agency heads (see

forms: A search will bring up numerous forms for each year, so knowing where key information is can save a great deal of time. Table A.2 presents this information. References Adams, Gordon. 1984. The Department of Defense and the military-industrial establishment: The politics of the iron triangle. In Critical Studies in Organization and Bureaucracy, ed. F. Fischer and C. Siranni, 320–34. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. AFSCME Resolution # 69. 1982. Available at

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