The traditional notion that the state is the source of security for its people is slowly disintegrating. Prison services have been open to private entrepreneurs for investment. Privatization has also increase the number of prison hosting facilities, which has created an influx in the number of inmates. This according to economists and socio-political forces has led to a prison industrial complex due to the holding of the labor force within prison units. This paper will discuss the prison/industrial complex and also look at factors that contributed to its development. Second, this paper will look at privatization and its association with the prison/industrial complex. Finally, this paper seeks to define prison hosting, and explain the political, economic, and demographic impacts of the prison/industrial complex and prison hosting on communities and society at large.
First, it is important to understand that prison as an institution houses labor that could be used to stimulate other sectors of the economy. Feeley (2002) explains that prisons at times act as the place where surplus labor within the state is housed. However, much of the labor that is confined into the prison system is usually unskilled labor. In the economic organization of many states, unskilled labor is fundamental in the manufacturing industry and therefore housing this segment of the work forces creates an industrial complexity. In the case of developed nations such as the Anglo-American society systems, the confinement of unskilled labor might not have a great economic impact because these states house huge capital endowments that have increased technological expertise in the manufacturing industry thereby reducing the number of unskilled laborers that the market needs in order to function. However, the gridlock lies on what Feeley (2002) terms to as weak states(Feeley 329).Weak states in this context refer to the states that do not have high capital endowments and rely on low skilled labor in stimulating their production process. Some of the factors that have led to the prison industrial complex are the idea that the idea that low income earners are mostly the segment of society that ends up behind bars (Camp 55).Crime, as a social construct within society is creates by the wealth gap that exists between high and low income earners. Crime is therefore as a result of the later trying to reduce this social-economic gap.
Privatization of public sectors is a strategy that has been embraced by many states in order to stimulate innovation and business entrepreneurship in many societies. Proponents of privatization have argued that allowing private entrepreneurship in the offering of prison services is beneficial to society. Empirical evidence has shown that private entrepreneurs offer higher quality of services compared to the public sectors. One important thing to note is that private entities are driven by profit and therefore in order to remain in the market, they have to offer quality services in order to stifle competition posed by other private entities venturing in the same business (Hooks 233). Some of the ways that privatization has been seen as providing quality prison services is the fact that the areas allocated for hosting and confinement are well maintained compared to those that are controlled by public corporations that are owned by the state(Bale 57).
However, as much as privatization might seem to be a good idea in being able to offer quality confinement services, it is worth noting that for these entities to make profit, they have to initiate forces within the market so as to increase their flow and rate of business. Feeley (2002) explains that private entities in charge of prison hosting have been known to be proponents of increased social controls (Feeley 329). The increase in social controls correlates with the number of inmates. Increased number of inmates means that the various private entities in charge of prison hosting and other services continue to make more profits (Thomas 90). Privatization is associated to the industrial/prison complex because increased number of inmates means that amount of unskilled labor that is housed in privately controlled prisons increases (Perrone 304). Therefore, though privatization increases entrepreneurship and improves the quality of services that is offered in prison hosting areas, it is a source of increased social controls aimed at keeping Private Corporation in charge of prison-services in business.
Finally prison hosting entails the provision of prison-services which include prison confinement and other rehabilitation units aimed at enhancing prison services. Though prison hosting is important in keying citizens considered by the state as not adherent to the law away from society, prison hosting creates political and economic complexities. The housing of surplus labor that would be used in other ways to ensure the growth of the sate often receives sharp political criticism. In addition, majority of prisoners within given societies might be from a give demographic group or ethnicity. Such as scenario may at times reflect the weakness of the justice system within some states and can often put the justice system under political criticism. Therefore, prison-hosting has both advantages and disadvantages to the community and society at large.
Critics have argued that increased prison hosting causes an industrial/prison complexity because inmates are a source of labor. This means holding them in prison units denies society from accessing this surplus labor. Second, though the privatization of prison services improves the quality of confinement institutions, the profit-driven entrepreneurship has been a source of increased support of more social controls by the private sector. This is meant to put more people behind bars so as to remain in business. Finally prison hosting is associated to the industrial/prison because it not only holds labor but also due to the fact that there has been increased sentencing and imprisonment of people from a particular demographic group or ethnicity. This in most cases questions the strength and biasness of the justice system, as is the case in Anglo-American societies.
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