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A Critical Perspective on Prison Privatization

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A Critical Perspective on Prison Privatization
April 6, 2015

A Critical Perspective on Prison Privatization
Topic Statement: “Is the privatization of prisons for profit an ethical practice?”
The topic of a country privatizing areas of industry is far from a novel idea, especially since the rise of capitalism. With the United States being widely considered the father of capitalism, it is almost expected to see the privatization of a key component of its judicial system, prison, becoming more and more common. Although the underlying function of a prison as a means of social reform has remained constant since its inception in 1750 BCE with the Babylonian Empire, externalities are beginning to influence a change in the governing bodies of penitentiaries (Roberts, 2006). With governments and taxpayers seeing the opportunities for cost savings, countries throughout the world are beginning to employ private operating models for their penitentiaries, with the U.S. being the primary driver of this change (Trivedi, 2014).
Framework of the Issue
A change in the operating sovereign of a prison, from federal to private, is controversial enough that the effects of this privatization have garnered the title of the Prison-Industrial
Complex. The complex is a scholarly attempt to explain the intertwining of the profit-driven agendas of private prison companies and the correlated expansion of the US inmate population. Although cost savings for the government and its taxpayers are argued as beneficial outcomes of prison privatization, there are much greater stakes for society as a whole. The issue of privatizing prisons is especially relevant to a business ethics course because this particular industry does not deal with a simple product or service; it deals with the unique commodity of people. The privatization of prisons completely changes the

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