Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal


Hadar Aviram


The fallout of the financial crisis continues to have major effects across the American correctional landscape. Federal and state budgetary limits have slowed and even reversed what were thought to be ever-rising incarceration rates. While this has successfully led to less punitive policies regarding the death penalty and the war on drugs, incarceration practices have affected punitivism in more complex ways. This article explores the correctional changes prompted by the financial crisis that are being made not at the ballot box, but behind closed doors. The outcomes of negotiations between prison administrators and private service providers, or amongst state governments, are not indicative of a shift in long-term punitive policy, but rather of short-term budgetary efficiency. This article argues that policies such as overcrowding prisoners into private institutions, exporting them to other states, and shifting them from state institutions into county jails are more focused on managing complex budgetary tasks while maintaining institutionalized parties' economic interests rather than creating lasting change in our correctional system by ultimately reducing recidivism. In order to accomplish that goal, we must not forget arguments stemming from the principles of human dignity and the belief in the correctional system as a vehicle of rehabilitation and hope.

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