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Cashing In on Crime: The Drive to Privatize California State Prisons

Karyl Kicenski
Cashing In on Crime: The Drive to Privatize California State Prisons
ISBN: 978-1-935049-61-6
ISBN: 978-1-62637-297-9
2013/198 pages/LC: 2013029730
A FirstForumPress Book
"Provides a cogent understanding of an issue that will continue to inform and challenge the justice system in California and the nation in the years ahead."—Elaine Rizzo, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

"[An] excellent book.... A must read for any person who has an interest in modern penological theory."—Rick Sarre, Criminal Justice Review

"Comprehensive and robust.... Kicenski delves deep into the political pandering over crime that has produced not only mass incarceration, but also unprecedented profiteering."—Michael Welch, Rutgers University-New Brunswick


What explains the boom in private prisons—especially since the record of privatization for rehabilitating prisoners and saving taxpayer dollars is, at best, mixed? Karyl Kicenski examines the privatization of California state prisons to illuminate the forces that shape and distort our criminal justice policies.

Tracing the growth of private prisons from 1980 to the current day, Kicenski explores the role of political and economic factors, as well as the impact of changing public attitudes toward crime and governance. The result is a clear set of lessons for the uneasy partnership between public safety and for-profit enterprise.


Karyl Kicenski is professor of communication studies at College of the Canyons.


  • The Emergence of Private Prisons.
  • Transformations of the Prison Landscape.
  • Economic Issues.
  • The Political-Legislative Sphere.
  • Taking Account of Ideologies.
  • Why Privatization Failed.
  • The Mythology of Privatization.