Privatized corrections in the 21st century: Reframing the privatization debate

Andrea N. Montes, Daniel P. Mears

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    Research Summary: Governments historically have relied on private organizations to assist with the provision of correctional punishment and services. This reliance continues but has engendered considerable debate that stems from ideological divides. Debate stems as well from a disjuncture between the limited evidence about privatization and calls for evidence-based policy. In this article, we present a conceptual framework for identifying what is and is not known about privatization and for guiding scholarship and policy. We then discuss key issues that must be addressed to advance knowledge about privatization and productively inform policy debates. Policy Implications: In our review, we highlight that little is known not only about the benefits and harms of private corrections but also about the operations, impacts, and cost efficiency of public corrections. Scholarship on privatization can be used to shed light on contemporary punishment practices and how they impact individuals and influence corrections systems and society.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)217-239
    Number of pages23
    JournalCriminology and Public Policy
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 2019


    • corrections
    • evidence
    • policy
    • private prisons
    • privatization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Administration
    • Law


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