In a groundbreaking move by the Obama administration, the U.S Justice Department has announced the phasing out of private-for-profit prisons.
According to the Washington Post, the decrease of federal inmates, the safety of officers and treatment of inmates lead to the decision. On Thursday (Aug. 18), Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates instructed the Bureau of Prisons not to renew the contracts of the prisons and let them expire. “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates’ note reads.
The 13 privately run prisons in the country currently house 195,000 federal inmates, just a small percentage of prisoners in the system. The decision has been seen as a step in the right direction when it comes to cracking down on the criminal justice system. The New York Times reports David Fathi, the director of the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, is delighted about the decision and hopes state prisons follow suit by stopping “the control of prisons to for-profit companies.”
Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group reportedly received half of their funding from the 13 federal prisons. The tougher sentencing of drug offenders expanded the prisoner population, giving corporations plenty of profit. Yates called the move the first step in ending the use of privately operated prisons for good.
“Today’s memo reflects important steps that the bureau has already taken to reduce our reliance on private prisons, including a decision three weeks ago to end a private prison contract for approximately 1,200 beds,” Yates’ blog post read. “Taken together, these steps will reduce the private prison population by more than half from its peak in 2013 and puts the Department of Justice on a path to ensure that all federal inmates are ultimately housed at bureau facilities.”