Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. David J. Hartmann

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald Kramer

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas Davidson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Gregg Barak


This dissertation is framed by the radical criminological-theoretical perspective and utilizes the social constructionist method of analysis to examine the development of prison privatization in the United States. Central to this analysis is the question: How is it that, given the disastrous history of blatant attempts to blend capitalism and punishment, contemporary privatization of prisons not only emerged but continues to expand becoming a multinational incarceration industry? Three phases of privatization: emergence, maintenance and perpetuation, are illuminated in their political, economic and cultural contexts. Thestrategies and techniques, access to power, claims-making and managing counterclaims for example, of various stakeholders in the corrections commercial complex, politicians, prison officials and industry leaders are examined. The findings indicate that the conditions---political, economic and cultural---are ripe for even more growth in operational privatization, and further, the claims and strategies used to promote operational privatization of prisons are resurfacing to capture even more raw materials (people). This work concludes that by understanding the deep sociological and cultural roots of crime control, a posture of resistance to this existing form of domination and future expansion of formal control mechanisms in the name of reform can be pursued. Finally this research recommends that one possible way to confront social inequality, seek to liberate oppressed people and prevent further oppression is to illuminate the strategies, techniques, discourse and entanglements of the corrections commercial complex. Through this process one can begin to construct a new politics of truth; changing and challenging the political, economic and institutional regime of the production of truth.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Criminology Commons