Profiting from punishment? : prison privatization in a globalized world

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Breysem, Alexander
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As recent decisions by policy makers show, there is now little doubt that a pivotal shift is being generated as the correctional system is propelled swiftly down the road of privatization. The privatization of correctional facilities has recently become subject to a growing body of academic research that seeks to understand and address this issue. While some argue that prison privatization can achieve correctional goals more effectively and at a lower cost, others maintain that it is profitmotivated, adversely affects prisoners’ rights and undermines the criminal justice system. The effects of prison privatization have been largely underestimated. Whereas it may be true that the adoption of free market policies have generated economic growth and increased socio-economic well-being in some countries, it is an indisputable fact that they have also resulted in corruption, severe austerity measures and economic crises which in turn have led to growing inequality and poverty on a global scale. Moreover, privatization policies have led to the growing inclusion of private entities in sectors that were traditionally administered by the state. This raises doubts about the regulatory ability of the state, because it becomes unclear whether the state is still competent to fulfill its international legal obligations to safeguard human rights in an increasingly globalized world. Thus, the privatization of public services can paradoxically become an obstacle for states to guarantee the protection of human rights for those people who are adversely affected by it. However, there exists little consensus and empirical evidence to support these claims. This research project aims to fill this gap in the literature by focusing on the political and legal aspects of prison privatization.
Second semester University: Lund University
prison, privatisation, human rights, forced labour, slavery