chapter  21
9 Pages

Private prisons, the criminal justice—industrial complex and bodies destined for profitable punishment

WithPaul Leighton, Donna Selman

This chapter examines the process and propriety of contracting out a function like punishment. The reality of inmates currently being held in private prisons does not negate the question of whether government should be searching for the lowest bidder to administer that government's coercive power. The chapter also examines the prison–and criminal justice–industrial complex, an outgrowth of the incarceration binge; it describes the concerns profit interests in a high and/or increasing prison population. As the complex gets larger, public policy about criminal justice and public safety is made increasingly in the interests of profits and shareholders rather than the public. While private prisons are a visible and relatively easily understood aspect of privatization and the prison– or criminal justice–industrial complex, the problems of "bodies destined for profitable punishment" are substantially larger. Privatization may sound like it offers public benefits because of the forces of the "free market".