Prison-Based Economic Development: What the Evidence Tells Us


  • Dae-Young Kim Buffalo State, The State University of New York



economic development, mass imprisonment, prison-based gerrymandering, prison impact, rural prisons


Since the late 1970s, there have been significant increases in the number of prisons and prisoners held in small towns and rural areas in the United States. Rural small towns have used prison construction and management as an economic development strategy. Although prisons were once seen as misfortune and disappointment to residents, since the 1980s, prison hosting has become a last resort for impoverished rural towns with desperate need of jobs. Prisons have been expected to fill the void when local industries and businesses closed down their operations in the 1980s economic crisis. While mass imprisonment and the prison boom in the United States have been important topics of research in the criminal justice field, less is known about prison-based economic development and its effects on local economies. This study conducts a literature review of U.S. studies, discusses theoretical and empirical limitations in the literature, and offers implications for research and policy development.




How to Cite

Kim, D.-Y. (2023). Prison-Based Economic Development: What the Evidence Tells Us. International Journal of Rural Criminology, 7(3), 357–385.