Topic Switch: From Ecotourism to Life Behind Bars

After doing some research this week on ecotourism and being dissatisfied with the results, I decided to switch to my backup topic:  Prisons.  For my second paper I’ll be looking into the ethical dilemmas faced by the GEO Group which runs privatized prisons in the US and abroad.  The GEO Group is a company that specialized in corrections, detention and mental health treatment.  It operates facilities in North America, Australia, the UK and South Africa.  It runs 96 facilities with 73,000 beds worldwide at a 96% occupancy rate. Last year the company made a profit of $77.5 million on revenue of $1.61 billion. I’ll be applying the ethical theory of utilitarianism to determine if private prisons maximize total benefit and reduce suffering.  Colleen and I are both writing about prisons, but the topic is broad and the companies different enough that we’ll be tackling different problems.  They’ll both be great reads.

In my research one article jumped out at me:  The Judicial Response to Crime and the Criminal: A Utilitarian Perspective by Thomas Orsagh

Access here:  Orsagh argues that courts use utilitarian principles in the sentencing process.  It takes into account offense attributes, resource costs, availability of alternative sanctions and total crime rate.  This will help me set up my argument since I hope to gauge the role prisons should play in maximizing utility for society.

Another specific to the GEO Group is:  GEO Group, Inc. Despite a Crashing Economy, Private Prison Firm Turns a Handsome Profit by Erin Rosa of Corp Watch

Access here:  The article highlights how GEO Group is turning a profit by specializing in detaining illegal immigrants.


By their nature, for profit prisons companies experience growth when an increasing number of Americans are behind bars.  Proponents, however, argue that they are more efficient and therefore lessen the financial burden on taxpayers.  I’m looking forward to investigate these points myself with GEO Group as the case study.



6 responses to “Topic Switch: From Ecotourism to Life Behind Bars

  1. I am looking forward to hearing more about GEO. I found Colleen’s previous two posts about prisons extremely interesting and thought provoking, so an additional perspective will be cool!


  2. I find this topic particularly interesting because we often hear about the state of the prison system, but not about the corporations that are behind it. Is it ethical to make money by detaining people? Should the prison system be private or state-owned? I’m looking forward to what you come up with.


    • Yea thanks, I think it’s interesting because there are compelling arguments on both sides. It becomes the efficiency of the free market vs. the ethical responsibilities of the government.


  3. I agree this is a very good topic. It reminds me of movies such as “Death Race” where privatized prisons build funds by exposing prisoners to traumatic experiences. Also, the massive amount of prisoners in the US is a heavy draw on taxpayers, but many European prisons are said to be much nicer. How can this be balanced?


  4. I am interested to know why you were not satisfied for the research results on ecotourism? This also seems like it will be a very successful paper


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