One of the big ideas (perhaps Big Ideas) behind my next novel, Buyout, is what happens when the criminal justice and prison systems get entangled with market imperatives. Private prisons, responding to the stimuli that all private enterprise responds to, put new and difficult pressures on police and courtrooms because when you’re a private prison company and you need to grow to keep your shareholders happy, that means you need more prisoners. And who is going to provide those prisoners? You need cops to arrest them, judges to sentence them, and legislatures to keep passing tough-on-crime legislation that will put more people in jail.
Where market pressures rise in the absence of adequate regulations, corruption is soon to follow. That’s one thing Buyout is about, and so it was with interest that I read this NYT article today, in which we learn of a kickback scheme between two juvenile court judges and the private detention facilities who used them. Scary.
Not quite as scary as the situation in Buyout, but hey, we’ve still got thirty years or so to match the book’s (near)future history.