Helpful or Harmful? Theorizing Privatized Corrections: Findings from a Qualitative Study

Andrea N. Montes, Skyler J. Morgan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    The theoretical logic underlying correctional privatization is that private organizations provide comparable or better services more cost-efficiently than governments. This logic and its mechanisms have come primarily from scholarly accounts. This study advances scholarship and policy on privatized corrections by analyzing interviews of people who have observed privatization in practice. The findings suggest that mechanisms that enhance privatization’s effectiveness and efficiency include: bureaucracy that promotes flexibility, budget flexibility that promotes efficiencies, competition that promotes improved corrections, missions that prioritize effectiveness, and high-quality monitoring. Mechanisms contributing to privatization’s ineffectiveness and inefficiencies are bureaucracy that inhibits flexibility, budget flexibility that promotes inefficiencies, lack of competition, goals that do not prioritize effectiveness, and insufficient monitoring. These findings reveal the importance of accounting for the conditions under which corrections, public and private, are implemented.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)458-479
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2021


    • Privatization
    • corrections
    • privatized corrections
    • public policy
    • qualitative

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Law


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