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Some unanswered questions about private prison quotas

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2 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    I think one has to review, ala Bernard Harcourt, the overall political economy of the carceral state to make a normative judgment here. Ideally, neither public prison guards nor private prison owners would be able to influence incarceration policies for private purposes. But we know both groups do. An additional question then might be: are we effectively trading some guaranteed rate of return (at today’s freakishly high incarceration rates) in exchange for reducing the chance that the private prison corps will lobby for even harsher measures (to get themselves more business)?

    Cliff Rosky’s Force, Inc. offers a normative analysis, too.

  2. Steph says:

    “But does the nastiness have any actual policy consequences? In theory, this gives legislators an incentive to enact harsher laws, prosecutors an incentive to overcharge, etc. But it’s not obvious whether the penalties are large enough or immediately salient enough that we should expect those officials to respond to them.”

    I’d find it interesting to see studies on this as well. But I think one thing to keep in mind is the way that these occupancy clauses work in conjunction with other arguments put forth by private prison companies. See, for example here: http://www.thenation.com/blog/174628/disclosure-shows-private-prison-company-misled-immigration-lobbying#axzz2fpEjKvDs

    I could see a situation where maybe it’s not occupancy clauses *alone* that shape policy, but where it’s in the mix, along with whatever other arguments are put forth by lobbyists. And with your parole example, I would also throw in anti-recidivism efforts as well.

    (p.s. I sort of recall that some of the questions you have about constitutional doctrine and government contracts are addressed here: http://www.amazon.com/Government-Contract-Outsourcing-American-Democracy/dp/067403208X. Either that, or in some of Jody Freeman’s other works.)

    -the steph who also comments on your friend erica’s wall

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