DOJ, Citing Safety and Costs, to Stop Using Private Prisons

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The Justice Department announced today that it would end its use of private prisons.  Officials concluded the facilities are less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government, the Washington Post reports. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told department officials to decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates said, is “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. Last week, the Inspector General last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities 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 saw eight times as many contraband cell phones confiscated each year on average, the report said. According to the Inspector General’s report, private prisons housed roughly 22,660 federal inmates as of last December, about 12 percent of the federal inmate population.

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