The management of prisons is commonly seen as one of the core tasks of national government. Therefore, it is not surprising that the proposal to outsource the management of prisons to the market stands alongside the outsourcing of national security and defense as a highly controversial topic in debates over the moral limits of markets.

It should be noticed, however, that the question as to whether the outsourcing of prisons is considered to be controversial is closely linked to the political philosophy by which people justify national government itself. Principled libertarians, such as Robert Nozick, argue that only a minimal state with very restricted functions can be justified. According to this point of view, the state is itself no more than a dominant protection agency. Seen ...

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