- The Justice Department is getting rid of the use of privately owned prisons to house inmates.
- The majority of privately owned prisons are used to house low-level security risk criminals.
- However, this decision will not affect ICE prisoners because ICE is a part of the Department of Homeland Security.
- By next year, the population of privately owned prisons will be down to 14,000.
The U.S. Justice Department has recently stepped forward with some interesting news. There will no longer be the assistance of private prisons to hold convicted felons. Why you may ask. Well, they have cited that contracted prisons decrease public safety as well as minimize the benefits for taxpayers. After all, it’s the taxpayers that pay for the prisons.
Reports from privately owned contracted prisons, gathered by the Justice Department general inspector, have shown more incidents of inmate contraband, higher percentage of assaults, and a greater use of force than facilities that are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Sally Yates, the Deputy Attorney General, said in a memo yesterday, “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and … they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”
Although, this decision raises some doubts and concerns the decision itself will not affect the vast majority of prisoners, who are mostly being held by state and local authorities.
The Justice Department has already begun to downsize their private prison population. They recently declined to renew a contract for 1,200 prison beds for privately run prisons and have said that the prisons should expect a decline in “demand ” for their facilities. The federal prison population has already begun to thin out as well, now at a low 195,000 inmates.
However, the use of private prisons isn’t over forever. The Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates, left the topic open for future Presidents. With a new presidential administration soon to step into the role of “Commander and Chief” you can expect, whoever it is, that they may deal with the situation differently.
The executive director of The Sentencing Project, Marc Mauer, said this was a “major milestone in the movement away from mass incarceration.” He went on to say, “It has been a stain on our democracy to permit profit-making entities to be handed the responsibility of making determinations of individual liberty. Today’s action moves us closer to a moment when government can once again assume this important responsibility.”
A former prison researcher for Human Rights Watch, Jamie Fellner, also had some things to say. Fellner explained that “when the government does delegate, it’s done a bad job of supervising.” Fellner went on to say, “When private prisons fail as the inspector general suggests was going on with these particular ones, it’s not just somehow because private business can’t do corrections. The principal overriding reason is … [the Bureau of Prisons] failed to require contractually core best practices and standards; two failed to supervise; and three, it failed to enforce the contracts. It just kind of keeps rolling over.”
ICE felt the need to come forward and explain the difference between immigrant detention facilities and federal prisons. An anonymous ICE officer wrote, “ICE detention is solely for the purpose of either awaiting the resolution of an individual’s immigration case or to carry out a removal order. ICE does not detain for punitive reasons.”
My question is, where do all the prisons that are being held in private prisons go? Do they get released? Or do we try and find a place for them in our already overcrowded prison systems?