Governance, Human Rights, and the Question of Prison Privatization (B)

Published 01 Oct 2006
Reference 5338
Region Africa
Summary

The Kenyan Prison Services confront the problem of too many prisoners living in inhumane conditions. Jane Mwenda is a young manager in KPS, who is one of the people pushing for change. An NGO, Prison Reform International, is providing training and advice. Private sector companies are encouraging the government to privatize the prisons. The IMF and World Bank are also encouraging privatization. Mwenda is considering three alternatives to privatizing, plus the fourth option not to privatize. At the heart of the question is whether governments should contract out prison services and if so, why would the governance of prisons be better or worse under private control.

Teaching objectives

The case is written to portray the question of privatization from the point of view of a government in a developing country. There is a clear case for privatization, conditions are abysmal and there is a lot of suffering. At the same time, the primary problem lies in the criminal justice system and the political failure to make capital investments. The private companies consist of a variety of players who propose different ways to run the prisons. The students are asked to be put into the seat of a government official in a poor country weighing up the merits of private governance of the system against the loss of sovereignty of state control. In this way, the case asks if efficiency is the primary criterion (and if so, what is the strategy of firms to deliver this efficiency) or whether a state needs, for its own legitimacy, to take responsibility for the welfare of the prisoners it incarcerates.

Keywords
  • Governance of Prisons
  • NGOs
  • Privatization
  • World Bank
  • Corruption
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Private-Public Partnerships