The spectacular failure of Carillion, one of the largest suppliers of services to the public sector, including prisons and hospitals, has brought into focus again the problematic relationship between public and private sectors in the management of punishment.
A new paper by Brunel Law School Professors Susan Easton and Christine Piper, 'Outsourcing Punishment: A Poisoned Chalice?', assesses the extent to which the instrumental aims of (part) privatisation of punishment are being met. It focuses on two main issues: the economic benefits – cost effectiveness and the transformative effect – the raising of standards or the introduction of innovative methods.
The paper, published in the International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, argues that whilst regulatory mechanisms are in place for the state to oversee this part privatisation process, these are currently ineffective, the delivery of punishment is inadequate and the legitimacy of the power to punish is lost by transferring it to a private corporation.