The Color of Corporate Corrections, Part II: Contractual Exemptions and the Overrepresentation of People of Color in Private Prisons

Source: Christopher Petrella, Radical Criminology, no. 3, 2014

My previous study published in Radical Criminology, (Issue 2, Fall 2013) demonstrates that people of color-though historically overrepresented in public prisons relative to their share of state and national populations-are further overrepresented in private prisons contracted by departments of correction in Arizona, California, and Texas.

My current research on the relationship between U.S. racial formation and prison privatization enlarges my previous work by foregrounding the question of why. That is, why is it that people of color are overrepresented in private versus public facilities in select states even in the absence of explicit racially discriminatory correctional placement or classification policies?

In order to explain why people of color tend to be overrepresented in private relative to public facilities around the country this study draws on data from nine (9) states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. These states were selected on the basis of their reliably large sample size. Each of the nine states considered currently houses at least 3,000 prisoners in private minimum and/or medium security facilities. Additionally, this study controls for differences in facility population profile. Therefore, only public and private facilities/units with a minimum and/or medium security designation are included in this comparison. And finally, as in my previous work, in order to avoid artificially inflating the over-incarceration of people of color in for-profit prisons this examination intentionally excludes figures from federal detention centers controlled by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Marshals Service, and detention facilities managed at the local level. For similar reasons, it strategically excludes data from transfer centers, work release centers, community corrections facilities, and reception centers. ….
Why There’s an Even Larger Racial Disparity in Private Prisons Than in Public Ones
Source: Katie Rose Quandt, Mother Jones, February 17, 2014

The Color of Corporate Corrections: The Overrepresentation of People of Color in the For-Profit Corrections Industry
Source: Christopher Petrella, Josh Begley, Radical Criminology, no. 2, 2013