Contracting for Performance: Restructuring the Private Prison Market

By Kyle, Peter H. | William and Mary Law Review, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Contracting for Performance: Restructuring the Private Prison Market


Kyle, Peter H., William and Mary Law Review


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
I. PRIVATIZATION OF PRISONS IN THE UNITED STATES
     A. Getting Tough on Crime: Determinate
       Sentencing and the Prison Bubble
     B. Market Concentration
     C. Looking Forward in the Industry
II. REBALANCING COST SAVINGS AND QUALITY
     IMPROVEMENTS
     A. Cost Minimization and the Current
        Incentive Structure
     B. Criticism
     C. Insufficiency of Increased Input Measures
     D. Normative Concerns
     E. Restructuring the Market
III. DEMYSTIFYING THE PRIVATE SECTOR'S
     INFLUENCE ON SENTENCING
     A. The Impact of Proincarceration Lobbying
     B. The Normatively Problematic Capacity to
        Influence Punishment
IV. CONTRACTING FOR PERFORMANCE:
    REFORMULATING THE MARKET THROUGH CONTRACT
    A. The Advantages of Outcome-Oriented,
       Performance-Based Measurements
    B. Graduated Bonus System
CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION

Since the burgeoning of the private prison industry in the 1980s, the practice of contracting correctional services to private companies has received sharp criticism for incentivizing corporate advocacy of harsher crime policy and ensuring cost minimization at the expense of the prisoners' safety and capacity for rehabilitation. Many scholars have recoiled at the practice of privatizing the government's capacity to restrict the liberty of its citizens. (1) Yet in the literature's response to the wave of prison privatization that has characterized recent decades, these scholars have failed to offer substantive solutions beyond simply abolishing the practice. While discussing the premise of his recent book, That Used to Be Us, (2) Thomas Friedman observed that the incentives of contemporary politics are misaligned with the will of the people and eloquently captured the need for reform: "Move the cheese; move the mouse. Don't move the cheese; mouse doesn't move." (3) This blunt but sage observation reflects the economic axiom that "people respond to incentives" (4) that policy analysts and scholars of all hats too often overlook. (5) In the extensive literature on prison privatization, critics clearly recognize the perverse incentive structures the private prison industry creates but nevertheless fail to move the cheese, (6) instead proposing simply to kill the mouse. (7) This Note serves as an attempt to begin filling this gap in the literature by establishing a theoretical and practical

framework for restructuring the private prison market and the incentives corrections companies face.

Proponents of the abolition of privatization, (8) in their haste to oppose the practice, ignore the reality that the private sector, when confronted with the right incentives in a properly conceived market, has the unique potential to improve the rehabilitative capacity of the corrections system. Currently, the language of prison contracts defines the service provided as the provision of prison beds. (9) The concomitant incentive structure created promotes a focus on cost minimization of this service and serves as the foundation of the seemingly unavoidable challenges posed by prison privatization. The private prison market and the service provided by prison companies, however, need not be structured in such narrow terms. In order to reformulate the market and in turn the incentives created, contracting agencies should use performance-based measurements --such as comparative recidivism and employment rates--that would begin to redefine the market as that for rehabilitated prisoners and reformulate the operational philosophy of prison corporations. Although the contours of this system would initially be difficult to define, the ultimate impact of incentivizing cost-efficient rehabilitation and capturing the innovative capacity of the free market to respond to the nation's prison crisis would prove invaluable.

Part I of this Note begins by providing context to the prison privatization debate. Parts II and III respectively continue by grouping the extensive criticism of prison privatization into two categorical deficiencies--the emphasis on cost minimization over quality improvements and the encroachment of the profit motive into sentencing policy and practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Contracting for Performance: Restructuring the Private Prison Market
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.