European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Can Imprisonment Be Cheaper? The Case for Private Prisons

Keywords costs, criminal law, law and economics, private prisons, privatization
Authors Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko
Author's information

253270 Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko
Rotterdam Institute of Law & Economics (RILE), Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • Abstract

      Custody is the most expensive method of punishment in the Western world, as compared to other alternatives. Although expensive, prison is an indispensible instrument to deal with judgement proof or dangerous offenders. Hence, by using the law and economics approach, this article explores prison privatization as an instrument for less expensive incarceration. This method has the potential to reduce the prison costs without hampering its quality. However, a restructuring of the current contracts is needed to achieve this purpose. The attention given to the topic of private prisons by the law and economics scholars, especially in the European context, is limited, and this article attempts to fill this gap. The present article applies arguments from the bureaucracy and political science literature to explain the inefficiencies of public prisons. Subsequently, the potential problems of private prisons are presented through the principle-agent model and solutions are offered.

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