Mario Guido (UCL) - 2020-21 Students

Returning once and for all: contrasting the public and private prison labour systems in search of the future we want

Over the past few decades, most criminal justice systems have faced significant challenges ranging from overcrowding, high recidivism rates, the increasing costs of a growing prison population and the low employment rate of prisoners within prisons. Faced with these issues and in the midst of a shifting global economy, several states decided to privatise parts of their penal systems, albeit in distinct manners.

The research project focuses upon the involvement of private entities in prison labour due to the moral, social and legal implications that arise. Particularly, the International Labour Organisation Forced Labour Convention makes it clear that prisoners should not be “hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations.” In consequence, certain state practices have a clear impact on the application of the norm.

The research will consider public and private prison labour arrangements in several jurisdictions and seek to determine whether states are thinking of the future of work in providing employment for prisoners given that new forces including technology and globalisation are transforming the labour market. Ultimately, the project aims to identify whether states, in engaging in this practice, are actually working towards the objectives of modern penal systems: rehabilitation and reinsertion.

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