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Should the prison system be privatized?

asked Oct 26 '10 at 16:02

Colin%20MacDonald's gravatar image

Colin MacDonald ♦
16011

Prisons are institutions where those who violate the individual rights of others are coercively kept as part of their punishment. In an Objectivist society, its certainly conceivable to me that private prisons would compete for government contracts. The government would naturally patronize those prisons that displayed the best performance in keeping prisoners. In such a society, the government would still monopolize the use of force, and so since imprisonment is a coercive action, the government would regulate the coercive actions taken by such prison firms.

(Nov 19 '10 at 16:44) Michael Labeit Michael%20Labeit's gravatar image

As I wrote in the comment thread on another post:

No. What is a "private prison", anyway? A private individual or group keeping someone locked up? By what authority? What if the prisoner's friends and relatives decide that he was unjustly imprisoned? To whom do they appeal? Or do they just try to break him out? And so on.

Do you see where this is going, where it has to go? Any type of "private" government—police, jails, armies—leads to fighting and warfare at some level. The whole purpose of government is to stop such fighting. But to do that, government has to have exclusive power to make and enforce laws in a region.

Later I clarified:

Government can contract out some services to the private sector. For example, they could contract out the building of a prison to a construction company—I don't see any problem with that. Would they contract out staffing it to a private security firm? That doesn't make sense to me... but I'm not an expert on penitentiary administration. At this point I think we're talking about details of administration, not political philosophy.

answered Oct 27 '10 at 02:25

jasoncrawford's gravatar image

jasoncrawford ♦
10011766

I think the details of administration have to be informed by political philosophy. Is it possible for a government to hold the monopoly on physical force, and simply contract out the ownership and management of prisons to private companies?

(Oct 27 '10 at 08:58) Colin MacDonald ♦ Colin%20MacDonald's gravatar image

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Asked: Oct 26 '10 at 16:02

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Last updated: Nov 19 '10 at 16:44