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The Trajectory of Penal Markets in a Period of Austerity: The Case of England and Wales

Punishment and Incarceration: A Global Perspective

ISBN: 978-1-78350-910-2, eISBN: 978-1-78350-907-2

Publication date: 10 October 2014



This chapter reviews the economic turn in criminology to contextualise the prominence of market rationalities in penal privatisation and outsourcing in England and Wales. It illuminates how fiscal crisis and austerity have provided opportunities for transferring state penal assets and powers to private interests on an unprecedented scale. A series of scandals relating to fraud and mismanagement by private companies have revealed regulatory gaps and wilful oversight on the part of legislators. These factors virtually guarantee that state regulators will continue to be disadvantaged in asserting the public interest.


The chapter brings together the literatures on prison privatisation with theoretical critiques of neoliberal influences on state disaggregation. It applies those insights to recent trends and controversies surrounding the privatisation of prison and probation services in England and Wales.


The race to privatise more prisons and resettlement provisions in England and Wales is placing additional strains on an already inadequate regulatory system, which virtually guarantees that future scandals and crises relating to private sector custodianship will recur.


This chapter explores the under-appreciated criminogenic and governmental challenges to the regulatory environment which are brought about by outsourcing.



Corcoran, M.S. (2014), "The Trajectory of Penal Markets in a Period of Austerity: The Case of England and Wales", Punishment and Incarceration: A Global Perspective (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 53-74.



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