Sociology

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PRIVATE PRISONS IN PUBLIC DISCOURSE MEASURING MORAL LEGITIMACY

Abstract

Private Prisons in Public Discourse: Measuring Moral Legitimacy For most of the 20th century, incarceration in the United States was the sole responsibility of government, whether at the federal, state, or local level. In the 1980s, a movement to allow private firms to imprison charged or convicted persons arrived on the corrections scene, presenting itself as an alternative or a supplement to the governmental monopoly on incarceration (Feeley 2002). Private operation of prisons (or other correctional facilities) happens through a contractual arrangement in which a private firm (for-profit or not-for-profit) takes over full operational responsibility for a correctional facility and in exchange is paid by the government, typically on a per-inmate per-day basis (Harding 1997; Logan 1990). The long-term prospects for such correctional contracting were not guaranteed at the outset. Like other new and controversial practices, prison privatization depended on some degree of legitimacy (Dowling and Pfeffer 1975; Meyer and Rowan 1977; Suchman 1995). One particular type of legitimacy, moral legitimacy refers specifically to the congruence between a practice and prevailing cultural norms of propriety (Suchman 1995). In short, a practice is morally legitimate if observers view it as "the right thing to do" (Suchman 1995: 579).

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PBM_zIgqk

Reference

Aldrich, Howard E. and C. Marlene Fiol. 1994. "Fools Rush In? The Institutional Context of Industry Creation." The Academy of Management Review 19(4):645-670. Anderson, Lucas. 2010. "Kicking the National Habit: The Legal and Policy Arguments for Abolishing Private Prison Contracts." Retrieved October 24, 2010 (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1534372). Associated Press. 1997. "2 Inmates Still Hospitalized after Uprising." Houston Chronicle, May 12, p. 16. Auger, Deborah A. 1999. "Privatization, Contracting, and the States: Lessons from State Government Experience." Public Productivity & Management Review 22(4):435-454.Bardwell, S.K. 1996. "Neighborhood, Officials Find Double Shock in Jail Escape " Houston Chronicle, August 9, p. 1. Berger, Dan. 2013. “Social Movements and Mass Incarceration.” Souls 15(1-2):3–18. Berry, William D., Evan J. Ringquist, Richard C. Fording, and Russell L. Hanson. 1998. "Measuring Citizen and Government Ideology in the American States, 1960-93." American Journal of Political Science 42(1):327-348.

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