Justice Department Plans To Stop Using Private Prisons


The Justice Department is taking a very necessary step forward with plans to stop using privately run prisons that typically house undocumented federal inmates. The decision comes after a report finding these prisons less safer than those that are federally run.

The goal, according to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

She explained further in a memo issued earlier today:

“Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities. 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.”

The announcement also comes at a time in which Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group — the country’s two biggest private prison companies — have seen their stock prices take a nosedive by nearly 25 percent.

It’s a much needed change. The report issued last week by the Justice Department’s Inspector General, discovered that privately run facilities “incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP institutions.”

In one instance investigators visited three contract prisons for the report, and found that all had at least one safety or security deficiency. Two of the three prisons were improperly housing new inmates under very restrictive conditions until beds became available in general population, despite the fact that the prisoners had not committed any infractions that would justify their segregation. The BOP also did not properly check whether inmates received “basic medical services,” according to the report.

The private prisons currently hold about 22,000 federal prisoners, around 12 percent of the total federal inmate population. They mainly house undocumented males with fewer than 7.5 years left on their sentences.