If not in a private prison, the inmates are incarcerated in the more orthodox government managed prisons. A United Kingdom chief inspector has once cleared that a private prison is not owned by the private sector, rather, it is a prison run on contract by a private company. Whether the private company manages a state-owned prison or also owns the physical structure itself, the observation above still remains true. The definitions above give two important points, one, the authority to hold and deal with prisoners comes from public law and not private arrangement.
In addition to that, private prisons are considered to be an important part of the jurisdiction’s prison system. The first point is important to be emphasized so that one can be able to compare and contrast contemporary privatization with the statutorily unregulated deals which are related to leasing of convict labor that first came up in the United States in the early part of the 19th century (Smith 1993, p. 67). The next point that needs to be given attention is the fact that the state, when outsourcing or delegating service delivery, has not in theory gave up any component of its responsibility for system objectives, standards, legality, or equity.
The notion of purchase-provider relationship in the jargon of organizational theory is also imposed and that the public sector agency purchasing services and the private sector that provides for them. This term however has the tendency to be difficult to understand since the state as a purchaser cannot and does by choosing to discharge this role in that way, avoid ultimate political, moral, and legal responsibility for what the provider does (Lipton, 1997, p.
68). The prisoners remain prisoners of the state. One urgent issue is whether the model in reality works that way, whether the accountability devices and regulatory structures are appropriately planned and efficiently applied. Can one say with confidence that the state remains vigorously and effectively involved as regulator, that the private prisons can keep on to be part of the active responsibility of the state apparatus, that the companies are fully accountable? There is a perspective that, however well synchronized, accountable, and successful, the particular regime turns out to be even if its results are better for prisoners and its standards more reasonable and its processes more transparent, prison privatization is nevertheless still intolerable.
This is the primary moral criticism that imprisonment is an inherent state function that by definition cannot legally be delegated in any of its aspects to a non-state agency without undermining the very notion of the state and its responsibility to and for its citizens (Logan 1997, p.
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