The Justice Department is Done with Private Prisons
The Justice Department will no longer use privately operated prisons after concluding the facilities compare poorly to their federally operated counterparts.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision in a memo today, instructing officials to either decline to renew the contracts with private prisons, or substantially reduce their scope.
In her memo, Yates emphasized the goal of “reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons.”
“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 wrote.
There are 13 privately run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system, and Yates admits they will not close overnight. In the next five years, all 13 contracts will come up for renewal, so instead of terminating existing contracts, the Justice Department will review contracts as they come up for renewal.
Last week, DOJ’s inspector general released a report stating that private prisons incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report.
The recent disturbances in these facilities contributed to “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.”
The private prisons are operated by Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation.
following the news, shares of Corrections Corporation of America, the largest publicly traded prison provider, fell 50 percent. Trading of the shares was halted for volatility amid the plunge. Geo Group also plunged by as much as 40 percent and was halted, according to Business Insider.
Scott Marquardt, president of Management and Training Corporation, disputed the inspector general’s report and wrote that comparing Bureau of Prisons facilities to privately operated ones was “comparing apples and oranges.”
“Any casual reader would come to the conclusion that contract prisons are not as safe as BOP prisons,” Marquardt wrote. “The conclusion is wrong and is not supported by the work done by the [Office of the Inspector General].”
“The fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably to Bureau of Prisons facilities in terms of safety or security or services, and now with the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something about that,” Yates said.
Posted in General News