Racial and Ethnic Divides in Privatized Punishment: Examining Disparities in Private Prison Placements

Andrea N. Montes, Daniel P. Mears, Eric A. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Scholars have identified diverse ways in which get-tough policies adversely affect minorities. An interest has also emerged in privatized corrections and the potential for exploitation of those who experience it. Drawing on these literatures and on focal concerns theory, we hypothesize that some groups of individuals may be more likely to receive private prison placements. We employ regression analyses of official data to examine whether racial or ethnic minorities are more likely to receive private placements and whether such effects are moderated by age and violent history. We find that some Blacks are more likely to receive private placements, while, in some instances, Hispanics are less likely to receive such placements. There was no evidence that younger and violent minorities are more likely to be assigned to private prisons. This study advances scholarship on privatization, punishment, and the potential racial and ethnic divides in the consequences of the punitive era.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJustice Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • corrections
  • focal concerns
  • Private prison
  • racial disparity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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