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Justice Department and Private Prisons

Veteran News
Veteran News
August 19, 2016
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Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced Thursday that the Justice Department would stop its use of privately-run prisons. In a memo sent to top Justice Department officials, Yates directed them to “substantially reduce” the scope of private prison contracts or eliminate them altogether.Private prisons make up only a very small fraction of the total number of United States prisons. Yates’ directive will only apply to federal prisons, rather than state prisons, where the overwhelming majority of prisoners are held.Furthermore, prisons within the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and those run by the U.S. Marshals Service will not be affected. Only those federal prisons within the Bureau of Prisons will be nationalized.In total, 13 privately run facilities containing a little over 22,000 inmates will not have their contracts renewed. The prisoners are generally “low security, criminal alien men” with 90 months or less remaining on their sentences, according to a Department of Justice Inspector General report.


Justice Department Views Private Prisons as Less-Effective

The Deputy Attorney General believes that the privately run prisons “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,” according to the memo.David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, celebrated the decision, remarking that “For the last 35 years, the use of private prisons in this country has crept ever upward, and this is a startling and major reversal of that trend, and one that we hope will be followed by others.”At the height of their utility, privately-run federal prisons contained up to 30,000 inmates. Due to the shifting way which low-level, nonviolent offenders are treated, the federal prison population in general has seen a steady decline.

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