Delivery of custodial services for proﬁt is not a new concept, with evidence of private people proﬁting from punishment even in Ancient Greece (D’Amico 2010). As early as 1625, prison administrators in Hamburg and Bremen were paid per diem rates based on prisoner type, with the most proﬁtable prisoner, losamenten, detained for being a troublesome family member. Wealthy families could pay the oeconomus to feed and provide basic prison accommodation until the family was satisﬁed their behaviour had improved or money ran out (Spierenburg 2007). England’s inﬂuential prisoner reformer, Jeremy Bentham (1791: 19-58), proposed a fee for service contract for his panopticon prison model, and was an avid promoter of prisons operated on a for-proﬁt basis. The literature on private prisons and its controversies is voluminous. Often the research is atheoretical and repetitive, without making any substantial contributions to understanding the impact of prison (Volokh 2014). For example, comparative studies focused on proving private or public superior eﬀectiveness and eﬃciency over the other are replete. A range of limiting data access factors makes absolute claims as to the eﬃciency or cost-eﬀectiveness of one sector over the other nearly impossible. The following summarizes factors that have inﬂuenced the global introduction of private prisons as well as limiting factors in their growth. A current deﬁnition of private or contract prisons is where the state partially or wholly purchases, via tender, contracts for custodial services (Harding 2001). Based on this deﬁnition, the following chapter summarizes the growth of private prisons, international variations in contractual approaches and consequences of private sector entry into the custodial component of the criminal justice system.
Handbook on Prisons
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