Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice



First Advisor or Mentor

Valerie West

Second Reader

Martin Wallenstein


Despite the vast body of research on privatization of prisons in the United States, little is known about the relationship between these types of facilities and death in custody. The literature on privatization compares private prisons to public prisons on many factors such as recidivism and cost-benefit analyses. However, there is a gap in the literature regarding death in custody in public and private facilities. This study focuses on both individual and facility level differences in Florida and Texas to explore potential difference in death in custody between public and private prisons. The research focuses on differences in the number of stays, length of incarceration, and facility security levels, the study found decedents in private prisons differed significantly on these characteristics from their public prison counterparts. Additionally, an analysis of death rates in both states of private and public facilities found that there were significantly more deaths in public facilities overall. This exploratory study is part of the growing body of research on death in custody in private and public facilities in the United States. Future studies should focus on this understudied area of the privatization debate, particularly in states across the United States.



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