Deutschland: erstes teilprivatisiertes Gefängnis kommt in Hessen.
And I had hoped that this sort of, er, innovation would remain a UK-only phenomenon, as far as Europe is concerned. But no, the British are exporting their services to the German land (federal state) of Hesse, which is getting Germany’s first partially privatised prison. It’s not as if north of the Channel some people hadn’t already discovered that privatisation isn’t a panacea against state spending. German law doesn’t allow for private companies to fulfill all the duties that come with running a prison. Yet, says my inner cynic. And you wonder why some of us are despairing over the EU.
To spell out why I feel so strongly about this: There are two main reasons. First, the state (some Americans prefer the term “government”) has a monopoly on the use of force, and reserves itself the right to punish; this creates an obligation to assume the dirty work that punishment entails. Second, while some private companies will obviously benefit from the existence of the prison service (at the very least, suppliers, building contractors and the like), I believe that creating an economic incentive for, on the one hand, raising the number of inmates, and on the other hand, employing/keeping them in a way that generates a profit is an unhealty (and morally questionable) approach.
P.S.: I couldn’t resist to point to this.
Edit: I just discovered that the Netherlands does it, too.