This independent study examines and empirically tests the effects of the privatization of prisons in the United States corrections sector. The theoretical framework performs a comparative institutional assessment of the incentives behind the organizational structure of private and public prison systems. This conceptual model is then operationalized to empirically test prisoner recidivism, prison populations, and prison admissions under public and private prison regimes. The findings suggest that the occurrence of private prisons can incentivize higher prison populations through increases in admissions and recidivism, and lower prisoner welfare through overcrowding. This study unveils a misalignment between public and private prison objectives that leads to inferior economic outcomes in private institutions.


Histen, Joe

Second Advisor

Wang, Gang


Business Economics


Organizational Behavior and Theory

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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