Proprietary Prisons

  • Charles H. Logan
Part of the Law, Society and Policy book series (LSPO, volume 4)


The concept of hiring private contractors to manage prisons can be traced back at least as far as Jeremy Bentham (Roper, 1986: 85–88). More broadly defined, the private administration of punishment goes back, of course, much further. The notion that punishing criminals is the exclusive prerogative of the state is an invention of the state. That is, its origins are not ancient but coincident with the development of modern nation-states. Private involvement in punishment, however, continued even after the rise of the state. In the early years of this nation, many functions that are now widely regarded as public (i.e., state or government) responsibilities were then provided by private agencies and organizations, both communal and proprietary. Examples would include education, highways, police and fire protection, dispute resolution, and at least some kinds of punishment. Also, the nineteenth-century practice, more common in southern states, of contracting out the labor of prisoners to private employers, is often cited as historical precedent for the contemporary privatization of corrections.


Deadly Force Private Contractor Grand Jury Private Prison Correctional Agency 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles H. Logan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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