Are Private Prisons to Blame for Mass Incarceration and its Evils? Prison Conditions, Neoliberalism, and Public Choice

This article by Hada Aviram explores the distinction between public and private prisons. One of the main focuses of this article is do analyze the ethical aspects of private prisons. A main ethical concern is profiting from human suffering as private prisons are able to have prisoners complete cheap labor and get profit for having a full prison. Due to privatization, "prison population and incarceration become a function not of crime rates and public safety, but of supply and demand." Some people argue that there is evil in the private prison system as more and more immigrants are being arrested and detained in order to increase profits. Another focus of this article is private prisons' role in mass incarceration. In general, private prisons are more cost effective when they contain at least 1000 beds and are at least 90% full. This promotes mass incarceration of individuals to make a profit. The article also covers the interesting idea that some public prisons are actually privatized. The main form of privatization in public prisons is found in the health services, phone company, etc. Overall, this article concludes that private and public prisons are motivated by different incentives to house inmates.

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