David R. Henderson  

Markets in Everything

Obama's New Deal, Part 3... Land of Lincoln...

Two judges in Pennsylvania are alleged to have taken bribes in return for sentencing teenagers to jail. One case was that of Ms. Hillary Transue:

Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

I'm curious what crime she was charged with. Lampooning someone is illegal?

As Anthony Gregory points out, this is a problem with prison "privatization" if the state controls the system.

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CATEGORIES: Economics of Crime

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Franklin Harris writes:

What kills me about the media coverage of this is that while the judicial abuse is important, the stories just gloss over the real issue: This girl was imprisoned for lampooning a government bureaucrat!

Bob Murphy writes:

The thing that most amazes me is she didn't know she had a right to an attorney? Doesn't she watch TV?

RL writes:

We can only hope Judge Ciavarella's prison is publicly owned...

MHodak writes:

There may be problems with the state control of a privatized prison system, but this doesn't seem like a good example of that--not in the sense of private incentives making such an outcome likely or impossible to police.

These judges engaged in a deliberate corruption of justice. They tried to hide their bribes!

I don't think one is giving up any libertarian cred by proposing that these are the kinds of behavior that can be adequately regulated by law.

RL writes:

Are blog titles like newspaper articles, in that one can't blame the author for the title chosen? :-)

I ask because while I'm very glad Dr. Henderson brought this important and insightful case of how the government really works to our attention, I hesitate to agree that this is an example of "Markets in EVERYthing". In fact, while the prison system was to a degree privatized, the clear problem here is that the court system remained monopolistic, and therefore no competitive pressures existed to keep judges, presumably valued for their probity, off the take.

This is similar, it seems to me, to the many problems we've seen in airports when portions of the system (airline pricing) were decentralized while other portions (air control, airports themselves) were not.

In short, great post, but I'm skittish of the title.

David R. Henderson writes:

Touche. And no, you can't blame anyone but me for the title.

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