1st Edition

Privatising Criminal Justice History, Neoliberal Penality and the Commodification of Crime

By Christopher Hamerton, Sue Hobbs Copyright 2023
    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    Privatising Criminal Justice explores the social, cultural and political context of privatisation in the criminal justice sector. In recent years, the criminal justice sector has made various strategic partnerships with the private sector, exemplified by initiatives within the police, the prison system and offender services. This has seen unprecedented growth in the past 30 years and a veritable explosion under the tenure of the coalition government in the UK.

    This book highlights key areas of domestic and global concern and illustrates, with detailed case studies of important developments. It connects the study of criminology and criminal justice to the wider study of public policy, government institutions and political decision making. In doing so, Privatising Criminal Justice provides a theoretical and practical framework for evaluating collaborative public and private-sector response to social problems at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

    An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, criminal justice, sociology and politics and all those interested in how privatisation has shaped the contemporary criminal justice system.

    1.Introduction  2.From Nationalisation to Privatisation, or Bringing Capitalism to the People  3.The Free Market Panacea, and Putting the State up for Sale  4.Transatlantic Crossing, or the Appeal of American Know-How in the Age of Risk, Responsibilisation, and Rising Crime  5.Public Sector Outsourcing, the Contract Culture and the Myth of the Regulatory State  6.The Private and Public Police, or There and Back  7.The Public and Private Police, or Back to the Future  8.Prison Privatisation and the Foundation of Public Privilege  9.Prison Privatisation and Normalisation in the Neoliberal State: Between Dispersal of Decency and Diffusion of Duty  10.The Ascendency of the Business Ideal and the Marketisation of Offender Services  11.Interrogating the Failed Probation Experiment, or It Wasn’t Broken so Why Did They Try and Fix It?


    Christopher Hamerton is currently Deputy Director of the Institute of Criminal Justice Research in the School of Economic, Social and Political Sciences at the University of Southampton, UK.

    Sue Hobbs is Adjunct Fellow with the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University, Australia. She has wide practice experience in social and criminal justice.

    "Almost all State-based criminal justice professionals in recent years have instinctively feared and disliked the ‘privatisation' that they were persistently being threatened with, and fought as best they could to keep their services public. Sometimes, the wider public themselves were indifferent to their struggles (as with probation), and others, more supportive (as with legal aid). What all the struggling agencies had in common was a shallow understanding of what they were up against, and a naive belief that merely empirical and ethical arguments could resist it. Hamerton and Hobbs’ fine book, the first comprehensive British treatment of the subject for more than a decade, offers a new way of conceptualising privatisation, maps the dramatic changes that have already occurred and indicates what may be to come. Not all privatisations go smoothly—recent attempts to upgrade electronic monitoring have been a foreseeable fiasco—but without a book like this to guide us, all attempts to salvage and sustain best practice in the new penal landscape will be futile."
    Professor Mike Nellis, University of Strathclyde

    "Hamerton and Hobbs’ Privatising Criminal Justice is an authoritative and timely discussion of the most disturbing commercialized intrusion into the criminal justice arena since Thatcher and Reagan introduced the idea in the 1980s. It is essential reading for anyone—politicians, the public, students and practitioners—interested in the role global business plays in the delivery of commercialized justice."
    Emeritus Professor Bob Lilly, Northern Kentucky University

    "At one point in time, not so very long ago, the idea of ‘private prisons’ or ‘private police’ was either something ‘that happened in the USA’ or in dystopian visions of ‘the future’. But today, that ‘future’ is here, the private justice sector is as familiar in the UK as in the USA, and the long history of commercial engagement in the criminal justice system needs re-visiting and explaining. This needs expert guides. Hamerton and Hobbs provide an exemplary account of comparative and contemporary influences and events that have shaped a complex story of operational crises, public finance austerity, privatisation and profiteering, and failure to sustain principles of democratic welfarism. Highly recommended for anyone wishing to get to grips with these issues and debates."
    Emeritus Professor Nigel South, University of Essex