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Justice

New Zealand Tries a Different Kind of Private Prison

A new high-security facility in Auckland flips the incentives on for-profit incarceration to keep inmates from returning.
Could a smarter kind of privately run prison help states like California reduce their inmate population?
Could a smarter kind of privately run prison help states like California reduce their inmate population?Eric Risberg/AP

Last month, the largest private prison operator in the United States announced that it would be closing one of its facilities in New Mexico. The reason? Too many empty beds. “Unfortunately, a declining detainee population in general has forced us to make difficult decisions in order to maximize utilization of our resources,” a representative of Core Civic said.

Few things illustrate the perverse incentives fueling America’s private prison industry more than a spokesperson lamenting a lack of people behind bars.