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Prisons and Jails, Economics of

Prisons and jails are an important component of the legal system both in America and in other countries. Until recently, few scholars saw prisons and jails as economic entities. However, starting in the last decade of the twentieth century, many began to see modern prisons and jails as part of a prison-industrial complex, similar in many ways to the military-industrial complex that U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to in his farewell address in 1960. What Eisenhower was talking about was an iron triangle of the Pentagon, private defense contractors, and various members of congressional committees (for example, armed services committees). He noted that the decision making within any given policy arena is done within a closed circle of government bureaucrats, agency heads, and private ...

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