Public and Private Corrections: A Comparison of Civil Rights Violations

Curtis R. Blakely, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

There exists a tremendous gap in the literature about how public and private prisons differ (if any) in terms of facility conditions, the types of activities that their inmates engage in, or the types and frequencies of lawsuits that emanate from each. The purpose of the present study is to determine if differences exist between public and private prisons with specific regard to the nature and frequency of civil rights litigation. This analysis also helps identify characteristics and qualities of private sector operations by using public facility litigation as a comparison group. Furthermore, this study helps identify the legal issues involved in privatization, the various forms of legal liability for which private correctional operators are at greatest risk, as well as identifying contractual arrangements that government may implement to ensure that the rights of its inmates are protected. By closely considering correctional privatization as well as the issues related to the quality of confinement and the role that profit plays within this process, a determination can be made about the current status of punishment and correctional ideology.

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Updated 05/20/2006