Given that private prisons are here to stay for the foreseeable future, the central question becomes that of accountability. Accountability is not a unitary idea; its crucial components will vary from activity to activity, from structure to structure. The closed nature of total institutions such as prisons means that there are special difficulties in achieving effective accountability, even within public sector prisons (Maguire et al. 1985), and obviously these factors will be no less applicable to accountability within private prisons. However, the further question arises: are there additional factors which make accountability in private prisons even more difficult and illusory?