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The Ethics of Prison Privatization Essay

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How true is Christie’s warning that an increasingly privatized penal service threatens the ethics and effectiveness of the criminal justice system?


More aspects of the penal system are now privatized, and are set to increase. This includes the privatization of such services as prisons, electronic tags, catering companies, probation work or prison escort services. David Taylor-Smith, head of the world’s biggest security firm, G4S says he expects private companies will be running large parts of the UK’s police service within five years (Taylor and Travis, 2012). Nils Christie’s text (2000) “Crime Control as Industry” draws upon increasing prison populations in the US. However reflecting upon that the prison population in England and Wales has increased from 41,800 prisoners to over 86,000 in 14 years (Ministry of Justice, 2013, 1) Christie also looks upon other countries that face similar problems and how this and modern crime control represents a move 'towards gulags, western type’ (Christie, 2000, 15). He describes the criminal justice system today as a “Pain Delivery” service (Christie, 2000, 143) and argues that it is regulated by the amount of pain they choose to inflict on society and not by the actual number of crimes committed. Christie also identifies changes in capitalist societies and their social organisation, this he says is due to factors such as a larger readiness to report incidents to the police and social controls have declined producing a greater ‘supply’ of criminal acts (Jones & Newburn, 2002, 175)
However the main force behind this is crime control becoming a commodity, as represented by the expanding privatization market. Christie argues that crime control is now a product and privatization of the penal ...


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....org.uk/PressPolicy/News/vw/1/ItemID/179 (Accessed 29th November 2013)

Prison Reform Trust (2012) Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/FactfileJune2012.pdf FINISH

Pudelek, Jenna (2013), HM Prison Peterborough social impact bond has led to a fall in reconvictions, official figures show. http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/1186265/ (Accessed 16th December 2013.)

Tanner, Will (2013) Reform Ideas No 1 the case for private prisons. London: Reform

Taylor, Matthew and Travis, Alan (2012), G4S chief predicts mass police privatisation. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jun/20/g4s-chief-mass-police-privatisation (Accessed 29th November 2013)


Urbina, Ian (2007), Despite Red Flags About Judges, a Kickback Scheme Flourished, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/us/28judges.html?_r=2& (Accessed 15th December 2013)


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