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Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration
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Columbia University Press 2017
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When the tough-on-crime politics of the 1980s overcrowded state prisons, private companies saw potential profit in building and operating correctional facilities. Today more than a hundred thousand of the 1.5 million incarcerated Americans are held in private prisons in twenty-nine states and federal corrections. Private prisons are criticized for making money off mass incarceration—to the tune of $5 billion in annual revenue. Based on Lauren-Brooke Eisen's work as a prosecutor, journalist, and attorney at policy think tanks, Inside Private Prisons blends investigative reportage and quantitative and historical research to analyze privatized corrections in America.
From divestment campaigns to boardrooms to private immigration-detention centers across the Southwest, Eisen examines private prisons through the eyes of inmates, their families, correctional staff, policymakers, activists, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, undocumented immigrants, and the executives of America's largest private prison corporations. Private prisons have become ground zero in the anti-mass-incarceration movement. Universities have divested from these companies, political candidates hesitate to accept their campaign donations, and the Department of Justice tried to phase out its contracts with them. On the other side, impoverished rural towns often try to lure the for-profit prison industry to build facilities and create new jobs. Neither an endorsement or a demonization, Inside Private Prisons details the complicated and perverse incentives rooted in the industry, from mandatory bed occupancy to vested interests in mass incarceration. If private prisons are here to stay, how can we fix them? This book is a blueprint for policymakers to reform practices and for concerned citizens to understand our changing carceral landscape.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/07/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780231542319
ASIN:
B071P6XY71

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APA Citation (style guide)

Lauren-Brooke Eisen. (2017). Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Columbia University Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Lauren-Brooke Eisen. 2017. Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Columbia University Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Columbia University Press, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Lauren-Brooke Eisen. Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Columbia University Press, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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When the tough-on-crime politics of the 1980s overcrowded state prisons, private companies saw potential profit in building and operating correctional facilities. Today more than a hundred thousand of the 1.5 million incarcerated Americans are held in private prisons in twenty-nine states and federal corrections. Private prisons are criticized for making money off mass incarceration—to the tune of $5 billion in annual revenue. Based on Lauren-Brooke Eisen's work as a prosecutor, journalist, and attorney at policy think tanks, Inside Private Prisons blends investigative reportage and quantitative and historical research to analyze privatized corrections in America.
From divestment campaigns to boardrooms to private immigration-detention centers across the Southwest, Eisen examines private prisons through the eyes of inmates, their families, correctional staff, policymakers, activists, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, undocumented immigrants, and the executives of America's largest private prison corporations. Private prisons have become ground zero in the anti-mass-incarceration movement. Universities have divested from these companies, political candidates hesitate to accept their campaign donations, and the Department of Justice tried to phase out its contracts with them. On the other side, impoverished rural towns often try to lure the for-profit prison industry to build facilities and create new jobs. Neither an endorsement or a demonization, Inside Private Prisons details the complicated and perverse incentives rooted in the industry, from mandatory bed occupancy to vested interests in mass incarceration. If private prisons are here to stay, how can we fix them? This book is a blueprint for policymakers to reform practices and for concerned citizens to understand our changing carceral landscape.

reviews
      • premium: True
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      • content:

        October 15, 2017
        Evenhanded investigation of private prisons, focused on industry opacity and the moral problems behind its largely unchecked growth. Former New York City assistant district attorney Eisen, senior counsel in the Brennan Center's Justice Program, utilizes both criminal justice narrative and financial analysis to address her query: "what does the increasing reliance on the private prison industry since the 1980s mean for American justice?" She begins with the familiar, disturbing narrative of how the drug war and tough-on-crime policies created a culture of mass incarceration. In the '80s, Ronald Reagan turned hostility toward bureaucracy into a drive toward privatization for all aspects of governance. A fast-growing corporate structure was thus positioned to sell itself as a solution to the overcrowded prisons that resulted. The author illustrates how the industry has mushroomed, primarily through the establishment of powerful lobbying and exploitative income streams from all aspects of imprisonment. "The nation's prison industrial complex relies on a vast infrastructure of financial incentives," she writes. She also coolly documents the moral questions raised by this situation. "The very existence of private prisons," she writes, "let policy makers off the hook for recalibrating our nation's system of punishment." Eisen shows how private prisons have proven a risky investment for small towns; she visited some in which a private prison's oscillating fortunes led to economic collapse. The author also discusses related issues such as the recent movement for colleges to divest and the industry's inroads into immigrant detention in the Trump era. Eisen regards the industry as having dubious motives, exacerbated by their consistently giving her the PR runaround--though she visited some facilities--but she also takes a fairly restrained critical stance, believing the volatile industry to be firmly entrenched but in need of better monitoring arrangements. It's an admirably researched look at an ominous aspect of criminal justice, though it may seem dry to casual readers or mild to progressives. Important documentation of the free market's aggressive intersection with the war on crime.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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When the tough-on-crime politics of the 1980s overcrowded state prisons, private companies saw potential profit in building and operating correctional facilities. Today more than a hundred thousand of the 1.5 million incarcerated Americans are held in private prisons in twenty-nine states and federal corrections. Private prisons are criticized for making money off mass incarceration—to the tune of $5 billion in annual revenue. Based on Lauren-Brooke Eisen's work as a prosecutor, journalist, and attorney at policy think tanks, Inside Private Prisons blends investigative reportage and quantitative and historical research to analyze privatized corrections in America.
From divestment campaigns to boardrooms to private immigration-detention centers across the Southwest, Eisen examines private prisons through the eyes of inmates, their families, correctional staff, policymakers, activists, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, undocumented immigrants, and the...

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tableOfContents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Prison Buildup and the Birth of Private Prisons
2. How the Government Privatized
3. Prisoners as Commodities
4. The Prison Industrial Complex
5. Private Prisons and the American Heartland
6. The Prison Divestment Movement
7. The Politics of Private Prisons
8. Shadow Prisons: Inside Private Immigrant Detention Centers
9. Public Prisons Versus Private Prisons
10. Wrestling with the Concept of Private Prisons
11. The Future of Private Prisons
Conclusion
Notes
Index

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      • code: SOC004000
      • description: Social Science / Criminology
      • code: SOC030000
      • description: Social Science / Penology