Sessions Restores Federal Use of Private Prisons

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Justice Department’s decision to “substantially reduce” its use of private prisons, Politico reports. A memo from former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates last summer “changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the [federal prison] bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system,” Sessions said. Yates had said that “private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own … facilities.”

Yates said private prisons “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.” A Justice Department spokesman said Sessions’ action “will restore BOP’s flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) called the move was a “reward” to private-prison companies who had “invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said the decision “is a major setback to restoring justice in our criminal justice system.”

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