CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, March 13, 2023

Blanchard on Forced Contracting in Lieu of Prison

Sadie Blanchard (Notre Dame Law School) has posted Forced Contracting: Contract or Prison on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
A groundswell of scholarship and advocacy is challenging the expansion and privatization of electronic monitoring, criminal diversion, and parole and probation in the criminal legal system. But the astonishing perversion of contract involved in these new practices has gone unnoticed. Local governments turn increasingly to private companies to operate “offender-funded” programs that empower firms to contract directly with people who are suspected of or have been convicted of crimes—and whose alternative to agreeing to these contracts is incarceration. Though sometimes framed as a humane alternative to incarceration, the rise of incarceration-alternative contracts must be viewed in light of the history of race- and class-based economic exploitation using the coercive power of the criminal justice system. It must also be seen as part of the defunding and hollowing out of local public services to the detriment of the most vulnerable. Forced contracting is an aspect of market maximalism, the expansion of the technologies of markets, including contract, beyond their justifiable domain.

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