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Friday, June 20, 2014

Creating Good Incentives in the Correctional Market

I'm so glad I came across John Pfaff's terrific post about private prisons and their (smaller than you think) contribution to the mass incarceration project. It came just in time; I'm working on a piece that relies on neoliberalism literature AND on public choice economics to argue that focusing on private incarceration companies, as such, doesn't make much sense. First, public prisons are also privatized to a great degree; many of their functions, such as healthcare, food services, transportation, and industry, have long ago moved to private hands. And second, in a hypercapitalist environment, public and private actors alike behave in homo economicus ways, maximizing profit, minimizing cost, and largely not caring about maintaining prison conditions. There's a lot more, and I'll elaborate in a future post.

But the question I have is about solutions. If regulation is something that correctional authorities are able to circumvent, how are we supposed to do it right? How to create minimal incarceration standards? How to incentivize private and public actors to maintain a rehabilitative, recidivism-minimizing facility? Can you tie payments for services to recidivism reduction? How should the calculation be done? I have some ideas, but I'm probably more naive than you on regulation and the administrative state. Looking forward to your thoughts.


Posted by Hadar Aviram on June 20, 2014 at 08:43 PM | Permalink


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