Social Impact Bonds or Corporate Slavery?

Someone asked me a question on pirate position on social impact bonds that someone assumedly misread as advocating for slavery, that is prisoners would be forced into these companies on release. Perhaps we can clarify this policy, i assume it is voluntary?

“Social impact bonds are an arrangement under which a private business is assigned large randomised batches of prisoners prior to or after release and provides them with whatever reform and rehabilitation services they deem necessary to successfully reintegrate the newly released prisoners. Social impact bonds cover a diverse range of tailored services that are designed to reduce recidivism, and consequent government savings from reduced re-offending are used to pay for this service. If no improvement is made amongst their assigned batch of released prisoners, then the business receives no payment, but if recidivism is reduced and therefore the cost of law enforcement, corrective services and the crimes themselves are reduced as a result, some contractually agreed proportion of that saving is paid to the social impact bond service provider.”

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IIRC these are companies running social programs. Their role is to help people reintegrate into broader society.

Released prisoners are assigned to one of them as ‘clients’ and the company gets paid if their clients don’t reoffend (or, presumably, reoffend less than average).


Oh, I think I have a half baked idea a while ago. Is this what you are going for essentally?

cash per years rehabilitated

If there are countries paying prison companies for number of prisoners held… then don’t. Its basic economics of perverse incentive.
Instead, pay prison system for the number of years that a prisoner doesn’t re-offend. This will be done in a logarithmic graph, up to the max that we are willing to pay to have the prisoner not re offend at a future date.

So now, instead of private prison being paid to hold prisoners, they are being paid to keep prisoners out of prison.

This also brings to mind, does this policy just have to apply to those who went to prisoners? Could a preventative social bond be an option as well?

E.g. Identify at risk individuals, assign a bond and have corporations try to avoid such individuals from offending. Ideally though social programs. (Though safeguards needs to be implemented to avoid infringing at risk person liberties).

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@jsky, I wrote the prison reform policy, so here is my thinking in regards the question you were asked.

Going to prison is not voluntary.
Being released under parole and abiding by parole rules is not voluntary.

However, the transition that needs to be made from being a prisoner to being a free participant in the wider culture is also necessary; in fact the longer you’ve been there, the more necessary it becomes to work on that transition.

A social impact bond IS NOT forcing a prisoner into a company to work for them.
A social impact bond IS companies working to provide solutions for prisoners to integrate them into society;to find them jobs, to help them with their addictions, their social issues, finding friends, hobbies, getting on with their families … whatever it takes.
The social impact bond companies make money, not by using the labour of prisoners, but by saving the government a shit-ton of money on police, courts, prisons, crime, that currently amounts to MANY billions of dollars per year.

Participating in social impact bond activities could well be a mandatory parole requirement, but i’s like requiring you to get help to be a better person, after having been in prison for being a bad person.

How bad could it be?


perhaps you can at least have the option of an increased sentence but without the social impact bond. #freetochoose

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Seems like a weird trade-off you are proposing. Like, on their release, instead of receiving free assistance to help a prisoner to reintegrate their life on the outside, you want to offer them the choice to serve additional prison time instead.

Not getting how you think this is a useful option.

its about choice to have to report to a mandatory employer or not. some people might just prefer to do their time and get on with their lives hopefully as reformed people. they mightn’t want the government tracking them etc. Perhaps there can be a middle ground also where you can choose to read educational books and attend educational workshops during your time in gaol in order to help you integrate back into society. more choice means more personal freedom.

I’m not sure where you are getting this thing about a “mandatory employer”. There’s nothing like that in the policy.

so they can choose to not participate?

About as much as they can choose not to be on parole, but it’s not employment. They are not working for someone. They are being provided with assistance, tailored to them as an individual.

But you know … “horses and water”

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i think the options are better way.
they can read informational books and the companies can provide classes during their sentence time.
then the rest can be opt out.

but whatever, i was mainly arguing the point for a friend who was thinking about pirate party.

Reading and doing are not the same thing.

Reading won’t hook you up with rehab for your drug problem.
Reading won’t find you a job.
Reading won’t find you a place to stay.
Reading won’t find you friends on the outside that already accept your history.
Reading won’t help you with your mental health issues, at least not as much as real human interaction.

Prison causes harm to the people we imprison, and if you read the policy text, you’d know that the majority of people who end up in prison typically have all kinds of disadvantage going in. Failure to address those issues just perpetuates the cycle with high recidivism rates.


Fair enough, you raise good points there. I just think there should always be choices.

I have to agree with jsky on this. Something that makes no sense to us can make complete sense to someone else. For example, some people will just flat out refuse to do any programs at all or some even prefer jail to being on the outside after decades of being inside.

These things might be a completely foreign concept but like Andrew Downing said, you can lead a horse to water. You can give people all the support in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s should still be their choice at that point whether they want to make a difference in their lives, you can’t simply make them change.

The rehabilitation programs though are a terrific idea, anything to help lower recividism rate which I think is still at around 53% that they return within 2 years.


I think the position should be characteristic of the difference between libertarian left and libertarian right.

Libertarian right would treat rehabilitation as your own problem. Everyone for themselves.

Libertarian left (PPAU) would treat rehabilitation as everyone’s problem, and seek a way to provide support that works for the individual.

@jsky seems to have read some more authoritarian implications into the policy. I haven’t been able to determine how he concluded that.

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it doesnt matter how i concluded it, it matters whether it is true and moral or not.
And specifically i did say someone raised this issue in discussion, who is typically libertarian right minded, however he is attracted by some ideas of centre libertarian Georgism which is my politics and also anti-IP, so you can see why he might be intrigued with some ideas from Pirate Party.

And so libertarian centre would treat it both as your own problem and as a societal problem, and maintain a choice even if it is opt-out.