Privatisation in the Us Prison System Essay

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Privatisation in the US Prison System In this essay, I will examine the relationship between the deregulation and privatisation of the US prison system and its abnormally high rates of imprisonment, as well as examining the problematic nature of a profit-driven criminal justice system where private interests are able to manipulate legislators and the public into supporting policies that benefit them. I will also discuss the claims made by private prison companies and their proponents – namely, that they can save money in operating costs, and be more effective than publicly run institutions in providing safe and productive environments for prisoners – and evaluate their validity with regard to the some of the many studies available on the subject. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens that any other country on earth. The United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population, while holding more than 20% of the world’s prisoners, with the imprisonment rate at 743 per 100,000 of population as of 2010 - about 2.3 million people (Walmsley 3). This compares with 117 per 100,000 in Canada, and 132 in the United Kingdom (Walmsley 5). The prison population was relatively static up until the mid-1970s, when incarceration rates skyrocketed, with an increase of 700% between 1970 and 2005, according to a November 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, with an increase of 1600%, between 1990 and 2009, of prisoners held in private detention facilities (11). In the Autumn 1993 issue of Covert Action Quarterly, it is argued that “(t)his contemporary push to privatize corrections takes place against a socioeconomic background of severe and seemingly intractable crisis…under the impetus of Reaganite social Darwinism, with its "toughness" on criminal offenders” (Smith). The predominance of the ideology of free market economics in the United States has

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