The Consequences of Life Behind Bars


My paper will focus on identifying various ethical dilemmas faced by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), analyzing these issues through a consequentialist perspective, evaluating how they are managed, and determining if/how they could be better managed. The CCA partners with state and local governments to integrate public sector oversight with private sector business efficiency.

Unlike most other correctional organizations, whether government- or privately-owned, the CCA positions itself as a socially responsible solution to criminal punishment. The CCA employs almost 17,000 workers in more than 60 facilities across the nation and offers diverse inmate services including academic education, addiction treatment, faith-based programs, life skills training, vocational training, and health and wellness courses. CCA’s mission is to “advance corrections through innovative results that benefit and protect all we serve.”

Through various cited reference searches, I have been able to find over a dozen useful sources that could potentially be integrated in my writing. Using Google Scholar, I searched “Corrections Corporation of America,” “private corrections,” “prison ethics,” “criminal justice ethics,” and “consequentialism and capital punishment/prisons/incarceration.”

After digging through the results lists, I came across an article titled “Retributivism, Consequentialism, and the Intrinsic Goodness of Punishment.” Retributive theory justifies the institutionalization and even privatization of criminal justice by summarizing that punishing the guilty minimizes the overall net level of suffering of society. Consequentialists accept this conclusion but reject its rationale. While retributivism seeks to explain why it is morally permissible to punish criminals, consequentialism seeks to explain how punishing criminals yields less severe negative consequences than not punishing them. Both ethical theories, however, agree that criminal punishment is a fundamentally beneficial and essential system in society.

A second article I particularly like is “The Moral Implications of Treating Prisons Like Businesses,” which details the concerns that arise when privately owned firms develop and maintain in-prison services. Conversely, the article also analyzes the historical inefficiencies and injustices of government institutions. Author Daniel D’Amico suggests that contracted prisons like the CCA, managed jointly by private organizations and local governments, support a dynamic system of incarceration, one that improves through innovation over time. These two scholarly sources, in conjunction with the many others I have yet to read, will further my arguments about the ethicality of private prisons.

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5 responses to “The Consequences of Life Behind Bars

  1. Nice finds on articles. I’m curious how you’ll incorporate the consequentialism article where the author “seeks to explain how punishing criminals yields less severe negative consequences than not punishing them.” Punishment has its role in society but they should not be completely debilitating. (i.e. ex-cons being unable to find gainful employment)

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  2. Great articles!! Will you plan to explore through the lens one theory or would you like to incorporate multiple theories of ethics? Either way, it seems like you have a lot of interesting thoughts. I also really liked your featured image!

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  3. Is D’Amico arguing that privatization is an overall positive, ethically?

    I don’t know where you will end up, but I am sure you can also find strong arguments for why it is an ethically dubious business model.

    At some level, we want fewer prisoners, and, I think, the ones we have treated at least to some level of minimum good. Privatization can create perverse incentives to incarcerate LONGER as that is revenue.

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  4. Pingback: Blog Council: Ethical Resources | Stakeholders:Uncensored·

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