Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Organizational Studies

Reader 1

Jeff Lewis

Reader 2

Nancy Wallis

Reader 3

Sue Castagnetto

Rights Information

© 2016 Olivia S. Wilson


The thesis will focus on prison privatization and the accountability that private prison companies should maintain to build and operate them. It starts by detailing the political history of the privatization of prisons, starting with the Reagan era and the legislation and ideologies that emerged from it, highlight the reasons and justifications the government gave to outsource its system of punishment. By examining the War on Drugs and Tough on Crime legislations, it will show the way that mass incarceration allowed private companies to develop a solid grasp on the criminal justice system, transforming prisons into a system of hyper incarceration, capitalization and expansion. Using Richard Harding’s book, Private Prisons and Public Accountability, the second chapter will then focus on the accountability that the private prison companies must maintain to effectively and acceptably punish lawbreakers. It will also examine the justifications of the criminal justice system and private prisons, using a utilitarian and retributivist lens. Finally, Chapter 3 will investigate the accountability of the world’s first and largest private prison company: the Corrections Corporation of America. By using its website, this chapter will investigate how the CCA’s claims line up with its actions and what that indicates about its accountability. In the end, with a solid understanding of the flaws of CCA and private prisons, the conclusion will then question the position of private prisons within American society, providing ways to improve the flawed system.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.