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'It was absolute hell': inside the private prison

Taylor, P. and Cooper, C. (2008) 'It was absolute hell': inside the private prison. Capital and Class (96). pp. 3-30. ISSN 0309-8168

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As part of a broader current of critique of the economic and political dynamics of prison privatisation - a critique that initially emanated from the USA - this paper focuses on Scotland and on research carried out at its then only private penal institution, HMP Kilmarnock. The authors dismantle the government's case for extending prison privatisation by drilling deep into the experience of Kilmarnock and demonstrating the deleterious effects of marketisation for prison officers and prisoners alike. Degraded pay and conditions and systemic understaffing corroded morale, exposed staff and inmates to risk, and contributed to massive officer turnover. Compelling evidence comes from sources ordinarily unavailable to critical researchers,such as internal company and government documentation.