Control As Enterprise: Reflections On Privatization And Criminal Justi

January 1, 2019 General Studies

ceThank you very much for the welcome, and for giving my talk. When the Fraser Institute called me last year, they rang up and said they were having a conference and we would like to invite you, and I thought I think you have the wrong person. Basically, everybody else there, except myself and one person from Nova Scotia, were in favour of privatization and very strongly in favour of it, especially with respect to prisons. It was actually very educational and interesting to engage in that debate. First of all I would like to thank you very much for the invitation and to wish you all the best with your new programme. I am glad that you have asked me to speak about privatization and criminal justice because I am sure that nobody here needs me to remind you that privatization is one of the issues of our time. We see this in Canada in the context of budget cuts and trying to reduce the deficit, where privatization is often posed as a solution to problems we are faced with fiscally. We also see it in the West generally. You only look at the labour party in Britain, the new government, to see that they are far more open now to at least some aspects of privatization then would have been the case twenty years ago. I think if we look around the globe in general we see that privatization is an issue in many other places also, and I am thinking here in particular of Russia and other Central and Eastern European countries where there has been massive privatization in the 1990s. I spent 199394 in Lithuania and saw what was going on there, and the scale was phenomenal. I think that made me sensitive to just how big the changes are that can take place, and also sensitized me to how once privatization is set in motion, it can take on an impotice of its own, one that might surprise even the very people that initiated it. That is one reason why even with private prisons, that right now are very minuscule proportionately to prisons in general, that we should take this issue very seriously because it can accelerate and develop in the future. I am also glad that you have invited me to speak about privatization here because although we are surrounded by privatization, including in criminal justice, this phenomenon is relatively little researched. The one exception here might be private police, there has been a fair bit written on private police. But beyond that there is many aspects of privatization in criminal justice that have not received adequate attention. So on the one hand we are surrounded by the phenomenon and on the other hand we don’t know as much about it as we should. Even my own work, I might add, privatization is more or less a tangent for me as I do other areas of research. I think it is indication that very few people in Canada, criminologists, are systematically focussing on this but I keep getting roped back into this. I just wish I had three lives at once so that I could pursue it the way I really want to. Privatization is an area that really needs attention, and lets hope that students here at St. Thomas are going to take this up. Let me just mention one or two topics that need attention. Many people talk about privatization in criminal justice, including myself, mention that it is likely that private companies will try and influence criminal justice policy in various places. Yet when you look for the empirical support for this there is very little factual information there. Or we talk a bit about the decline of the military in industrial conflicts, the end of the Cold War, and new markets opening up for these companies internationally and we see some of the companies moving from the United States into Britain, Australia and now also Canada, and we hear things about them moving into Latin American countries and East European countries, but again this international dimension is one that there has been very


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