Ethical Concerns About Private (and Public) Corrections: Extending the Focus Beyond Profit- Making and the Delegation of Punishment

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Common criticisms of privatized corrections are that tying punishment to profits is unethical and that the administration of punishment should not be delegated to private entities. Such criticisms are important to consider but other ethical concerns also arise when privatizing corrections. For example, do private correctional entities protect individuals’ rights? The focus on profit-making also overlooks ethical considerations that arise with public corrections. Indeed, focusing only on the ethics of financially incentivizing punishment or the delegation of punishment obscures important nuances about the ethics of privatization and corrections generally. To these ends, a framework is presented that highlights that a range of ethical considerations attend to private corrections as well as to public corrections. It also reveals that a focus on ethics, while a good unto itself, could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of private and public corrections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-630
Number of pages22
JournalCriminal Justice Policy Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020



  • ethics
  • private prisons
  • privatized corrections
  • public corrections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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