‘Jailing for Dollars’ event discusses ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons

From left, Cindy Chang, John Pfaff, Michael Jacobson, Thomas Giovanni, and Judith Greene.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Over the past 30 years, the United States has become the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails.

On April 23, a panel of experts discussed the ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons at a conference entitled “Jailing for Dollars: The Moral Costs of Privatizing Justice”  sponsored by the Center for Ethics Education.

The conference brought together a distinguished panel of experts from a variety of fields, including Cindy Chang, staff writer for Los Angeles TimesThomas Giovanni, counsel to the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Judith Greene, criminal justice policy expert at Justice Strategies, Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., president and director of the Vera Institute of Justice, and John Pfaff, associate professor of law at Fordham University.

Panelist Thomas Giovanni 
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Harsher laws and longer sentences have led to an explosive increase in prison over-crowding and economic burdens for state governments, with little evidence of increased public safety.  Efforts to ease the financial pressures on municipalities have given rise to government contracted for-profit prison companies. Once considered a free-market solution to the prison crises, the privatization of incarceration in the U.S. has raised urgent moral questions about the policies and practices of the criminal justice system and the nature and doing of justice.

A full video of the conference is available here.

Click here for further information on this event.


  1. “Jailing for dollars” is a nice way of saying that private prisons are a modern day slave industry that uses humans as capitol to increase their revenues, all while spending millions annually to lobby for congress to establish mandatory imprisonment sentences for non-violent crimes to ensure that prison overpopulation continues, and the need for private prisons remains.

    But yea, jailing for dollars… we’ll go with that.

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