Skip to main content

The crime control industry and the management of the surplus population

Abstract

This essay examines what we are calling the ‘crime control industry’ and how the growth of such an industry relates to growing inequality and the need to ‘manage’ or ‘contain’ the ‘surplus population.’ Profits are a major moving force in this process, rather than the goal of reducing crime and suffering. An important component of this industry is the ‘prison industrial complex,’ one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Also included is a rapidly growing private security industry that includes private police and security guards, along with a growing supply of technology to aid in the ‘war on crime.’ Other components include drug testing companies, gated communities, and a booming gun industry. We conclude by outlining possible explanations for the growth of this industry.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. American Correctional Association. 1997.1997 Directory. Lanham, MD: American Correctional Association

    Google Scholar 

  2. Baron, L. M. 1998. ‘The Great Gate Debate: Gated Communities,’ On-line www.nindy.com/chw.gated/Build_a_gate_March_1998.htm

  3. Bartlett, D. L. and J. B. Steele. 1992.America: What Went Wrong? Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel

    Google Scholar 

  4. Baum, D. 1997.Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure. Boston: Back Bay Book

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bates, E. 1999. ‘CCA: The Sequel,’The Nation, June 7: 22–23

    Google Scholar 

  6. Beck, A. J. and P. M. Brien. 1995. ‘Trends in the U. S. Correctional Populations: Recent Findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics,’ pp. 43–63 in K. C. Haas and G. P. Alpert (eds.)The Dilemmas of Corrections (3rd ed.). Project Heights, IL: Waveland Press

    Google Scholar 

  7. Blakely, E. J. and M. G. Snyder. 1995.Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brayson, C. 1996. ‘Crime Pays for Those in the Prison Business,’The National Times, September: 28–35

    Google Scholar 

  9. Buss, D. 1996. ‘The Brave New World of Business Security,’Nation's Business, May: 29–31

    Google Scholar 

  10. Carlson, T. 1995. ‘Safety Inc.: Private Cops Are There When You Need Them,’Policy Review, 73 (Summer): 66–72

    Google Scholar 

  11. Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. 1994.Trading Books for Bars: The Lopsided Funding Battle Between Prisons and Universities. San Francisco: Certer on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

    Google Scholar 

  12. Chambliss, W. 1999.Power, Politics, and Crime. Boulder, CO: Westview

    Google Scholar 

  13. Chomsky, N. 1994.Keeping the Rabble in Line. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press

    Google Scholar 

  14. —.Powers and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order. Boston: South End Press

    Google Scholar 

  15. Christie, N. 1993.Crime Control as Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style? New York: Routledge

    Google Scholar 

  16. Coight, C. C. 1998. ‘5.7 Million Under Correctional Supervision,’Overcrowded Times, 9 (5) (October): 2

    Google Scholar 

  17. Common Cause Magazine. 1995. ‘The Anti-Crime Business,’ (Spring): 6–7

  18. Currie, E. 1998.Crime and Punishment in America. New York: Metropolitan Books

    Google Scholar 

  19. Diaz, T. 1999.Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America. New York: The New Press

    Google Scholar 

  20. Domhoff, G. W. 1998.Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield

    Google Scholar 

  21. Donziger, S. 1996.The Real War on Crime. New York: Harper/Collins

    Google Scholar 

  22. Dyer, J. 2000.The Rerpetual Prisoner Machine. Boulder, CO: Westview Press

    Google Scholar 

  23. Farnham, A. 1992. ‘U.S. Suburbs Are Under Siege,’Fortune, 126 (14): 42–44

    Google Scholar 

  24. Fellner, J. and M. Mauer. 1998. ‘Nearly 4 Million Americans Denied Vote Because of Felony Convictions,’Overcrowded Times, 9 (5) (October): 10–12

    Google Scholar 

  25. Fitzgerald, K. 1994. ‘Gizmos Tum Home Protection into a Boom,’Advertising Age, 64: 51–52

    Google Scholar 

  26. Gilbert, D. 1998.The American Class Structure (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

    Google Scholar 

  27. Gordon, D. 1994.The Return of the Dangerous Classes: Drug Prohibition and Policy Politics. New York: W. W. Norton

    Google Scholar 

  28. Herman, E. 1997. ‘Privatization: Downsizing Government For Principle and Profit,’Dollars and Sense, (March/April): 10–37

    Google Scholar 

  29. Irwin, J. and J. Austin. 2001.Its About Time: America's Imprisonment Binge (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

    Google Scholar 

  30. Laursen, E. 1996. ‘A Tale of Two Communities,’Z Magazine, (October): 45–50

    Google Scholar 

  31. Lilly, J. R. and P. Knepper. 1993. ‘The Correctional-Commercial Complex,’Crime and Delinquency, 39: 150–166

    Google Scholar 

  32. Litvan, L. M. 1995. ‘Security for Success,’Nation's Business, 83 (6) (June): 15

    Google Scholar 

  33. McGarrell, E. F. and T. J. Flanagan (eds.). 1986.Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics-1985. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice

    Google Scholar 

  34. Maguire, K. and A. L. Pastore (eds.). 1995.Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics-1994. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice

    Google Scholar 

  35. — 1999.Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics-1998. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, on-line version

    Google Scholar 

  36. Marx, K. 1993. ‘The Usefulness of Crime,’ pp. 52–53 in D. Greenberg (ed.)Crime and Capitalism (2nd ed.), Philadelphia: Temple University Press

    Google Scholar 

  37. Massey, D. and N. Denton. 1993.American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

    Google Scholar 

  38. Mauer, M. 1998.Race to Incarcerate. New York: The New Press

    Google Scholar 

  39. Meddis, S. V. and D. Sharp. 1994. ‘Prison Business is a Blockbuster,’USA Today, (December): 13

    Google Scholar 

  40. Miller, J. 1996.Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System. New York: Cambridge University Press

    Google Scholar 

  41. Millman, J. 1991. ‘Captive Market,’Forbes, 148, 6: 190

    Google Scholar 

  42. Miringoff, M. and M. Miringoff 1999.The Social Health of the Nation. New York: Oxford University Press

    Google Scholar 

  43. Munk, N. 1994. ‘Rent-A-Cops,’Forbes 154 (8): 104–105

    Google Scholar 

  44. Murray, C. 1984.Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980. New York: Basic Books

    Google Scholar 

  45. Nadel, B. 1995. ‘Putting a Lock on Prison Costs,’American City and County, 110: 1

    Google Scholar 

  46. Parenti, C. 1996. ‘Pay Now, Pay Later: States Impose Prison Peonage,’The Progressive, 60: 26–29

    Google Scholar 

  47. — 1995. ‘Inside Jobs: Use of Prison Labor in the U.S,’New Statesman and Society, 8: 20–21

    Google Scholar 

  48. — 1999.Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis. New York: Verso

    Google Scholar 

  49. Pens, D., and P. Wright, eds. 1998.The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the US Prison Industry. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press

    Google Scholar 

  50. Phillips, K. 1990.The Politics of Rich and Poor. New York: Random House

    Google Scholar 

  51. President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. 1967.Task Force Report: Science and Technology. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govemment Printing Office

    Google Scholar 

  52. Proband, S. C. 1997a. ‘Black Men Face 29 Percent Lifetime Chance of Prison,’Overcrowded Times 8: 1

    Google Scholar 

  53. — 1997b. ‘Jail and Prison Populations Continue to Grow in 1996,’Overcrowded Times, 8: 4

    Google Scholar 

  54. — 1998. ‘Prison Populations Up 5.2 Percent in U.S. in 1997,’Overcrowded Times, 9: 4

    Google Scholar 

  55. Quinney, R. 1980.Class, State and Crime (second ed.). New York: Longman

    Google Scholar 

  56. Reinarman, C. and H. G. Levine (eds.). 1997.Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press

    Google Scholar 

  57. Rush, G. E. 1997.Inside American Prisons and Jails. Incline Village, NV: Copperhouse

    Google Scholar 

  58. Schiraldi, V. 1994.The Undue Influence of California's Prison Guards' Union: California's Correctional-Industrial Complex. San Francisco: Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

    Google Scholar 

  59. Schlosser, E. 1998. ‘The Prison-Industrial Complex,’The Atlantic Monthly, (December): 51–77

    Google Scholar 

  60. Security Magazine, 2000. ‘Security at the Millennium,’ September: 27–29

    Google Scholar 

  61. Server, A. 1994. ‘Crime Stoppers Making a Killing,’Fortune, 129 (7): 109–111

    Google Scholar 

  62. Shapiro, I. and R. Greenstein. 1997. Trends in the Distribution of After-Tax Income: An Analysis of Congressional Budget Office Data,’ Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, D.C., August 14

    Google Scholar 

  63. Shelden, R. G. 2001.Controlling the Dangerous Classes: A Critical Introduction to the History of Criminal Justice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon

    Google Scholar 

  64. Shelden, R. G., S. K. Tracy, and W. B. Brown. 2001.Youth Gangs in America, 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

    Google Scholar 

  65. Sidel, R. 1996.Keeping Women and Children Last. New York: Penguin

    Google Scholar 

  66. Silverstein, K. 1999. ‘America's Private Gulag,’ pp. 156–163 in D. Burton-Rose (ed.),The Celling of America: an Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press

    Google Scholar 

  67. Sklar, H. 1998. ‘Let Them Eat Cake,’Z Magazine, (November): 28–32

    Google Scholar 

  68. Smelser, N. J. (ed.). 1973.Karl Marx on Society and Social Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

    Google Scholar 

  69. Spitzer, S. and A. T. Scull. 1977. ‘Privatization and Capitalist Development: The Case of Private Police,’Social Problems, 25: 18–29

    Google Scholar 

  70. Staples, W. G. 1997.The Culture of Surveillance: Discipline and Social Control in the United States. New York: St. Martin's Press

    Google Scholar 

  71. Stephan, J. J. 1999.State Prison Expenditures, 1996. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice

    Google Scholar 

  72. Stolz, B. A. 1997. ‘Privatizing Corrections: Changing the Corrections Policy-Making Subgovernment,’The Prison Journal, 77 (1): 92–111

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Tessler, R. and D. Reyes, 1999. ‘Gated Communities are Latest to Seek Cityhood,’Los Angeles Times, January 25: A1

  74. Thomas, P. 1994, ‘Making Crime Pay: Triangle of Interests Creates Infrastructure to Fight Lawlessness,’Wall Street Journal, May 12: A1, A6

  75. Tonry, M. 1995.Malign Neglect: Race, Crime, and Punishment in America. New York: Oxford University Press

    Google Scholar 

  76. Weinberg, D. H. 1996.A Brief Look at Postwar U.S. Income Inequality. Current Population Reports: Household Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau (P60-191, June)

  77. Western, B. and K. Bechett. 1999. ‘How Unregulated Is the US Labour Market? The Penal System as a Labour Market Institution.’American Journal of Sociology, 104: 1030–1060

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Wolff, E. N. 1994. ‘Trends in Household Wealth in the United States, 1962–83 and 1983–98,’Review of income and Wealth (Series, 40, no 2), June, 1962

  79. Ziedenberg, J. and V. Schiraldi, 2000a.Poor Prescription: The Costs of Imprisoning Drug Offenders in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Justice Policy Institute (www.cjcj.org/drug)

    Google Scholar 

  80. Ziedenberg, J. and V. Schiraldi. 2000b.Texas Tough? An Analysis of Incarceration and Crime Trends in the Lone Star State. Washington, D.C.: Justice Policy Institute

    Google Scholar 

  81. Ziedenberg, J. and V. Schiraldi. 1999.The Punishing Decade: Prison and Jail Estimates at the Millennium. Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shelden, R.G., Brown, W.B. The crime control industry and the management of the surplus population. Critical Criminology 9, 39–62 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02461037

Download citation

Keywords

  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Private Security
  • Gated Community
  • Critical Criminology