Book Review: Changing the Guard: Private Prisons and the Control of Crime, Edited by Alexander Tabarrok

Originally published in Journal of Libertarian Studies

The prison privatization debate has been raging since the mid-1970s. Is the government the only sector capable of providing justice and correctional services legitimately and efficiently?

The question of how to allocate resources to efficiently provide society with institutions of justice has become ever more pressing. Resource shortages afflict all of the government-provided elements of justice: police, courts, and prisons. A reconsideration of the typical methods of providing these institutions is essential to protect the ideals of justice. Changing the Guard: Private Prisons and the Control of Crime is a collection of articles in general support of private prison models. Each author offers his own thesis and distinct material pertinent to privatizing prisons. Together these articles serve as a glimpse into today’s market-oriented research surrounding prison privatization leading up to the book’s most notably radical contribution: Bruce Benson’s chapter which closes the text. This review draws attention to his crucial normative concern: what is the appropriate role of government? Benson’s chapter is a change of pace from the typical proponents of government contracting. Benson looks at the deeper issue of legitimate law-making as a precursor to effective prison policy.

Find the article at the Mises Institute.

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