The Color of Corporate Corrections, Part II: Contractual Exemptions and the Overrepresentation of People of Color in Private Prisons

Christopher Petrella


My previous study1 published in Radical Criminology, (Issue 2, Fall 2013) demonstrates that people of color2–though historically overrepresented in public prisons relative to their share of state and national populations–are further overrepresented in private prisons contracted by departments of correction in Arizona, California, and Texas.

My current research on the relationship between U.S. racial formation and prison privatization enlarges my previous work by foregrounding the question of why. That is, why is it that people of color are overrepresented in private versus public facilities in select states even in the absence of explicit racially discriminatory correctional placement or classification policies?

1 “The Color of Corporate Corrections.” Radical Criminology (2)

2Although racial designations are always imprecise, elusive, historically situated, and subject to revision, I have appropriated U.S. Census Bureau racial categories for the purposes of this study to preserve nomenclatural, and therefore statistical, fidelity in cross referencing figures. People of color here are defined as “Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and non-white Hispanic or Latino.”


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