Organizing prisons through public-private partnerships: A cross-country investigation

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Sandro Cabral
Stéphane Saussier


In this paper, we analyze the private participation in prison services in three countries: Brazil, France, and the United States. We highlight striking differences in efficiency between these countries and argue that the explanation for these differences is not restricted to the way property rights are distributed (i.e.public vs. private management). Instead, our analysis suggests that understanding those differences also requires an analysis of the incentives provided by contractual choices as well as decision and revenue rights distribution and institutional constraints. The theoretical literature usually analyzes these blocks separately, and often focuses on property rights distribution. We argue that an efficient arrangement is the result of the way these elements are combined, giving rise to a distinctive governance structure.


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Cabral, S., & Saussier, S. (2012). Organizing prisons through public-private partnerships: A cross-country investigation. Brazilian Administration Review, 10(1), 100-120.