DOJ To Send More Federal Inmates to Private Prisons

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Prison companies that backed President Trump’s campaign and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to his inaugural committee got another boost from his administration. The Bureau of Prisons will transfer more inmates from government lockups to private facilities as the agency prepares to cut federal corrections jobs, Mother Jones reports. Trump has proposed a reduction of 6,000 BOP positions, including more than 1,800 correctional officers. The agency expects a 12 to 14 percent reduction in staffing levels. “This is catastrophic for the safety and security of our institutions,” said Ray Coleman, president of a Florida-based union chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals. A federal memo published by Government Executive orders prisons to identify eligible inmates for the transfers by targeting low-security, male immigrants who are serving time for crimes. Eleven private prisons contract with the BOP, and most hold immigrants convicted of crimes.

Under President Obama, the Justice Department prepared to phase out its use of private prisons after the inspector general found them to be less safe than publicly run facilities. Last February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described private prisons as essential for meeting “the future needs of the federal correctional system.” Stock prices for prison industry giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group soared. Speaking to investors last summer, both companies highlighted BOP plans for a “capacity realignment” to avoid overcrowding in publicly run prisons. While the latest directive targets immigrants serving time, prison executives have suggested that other inmates may soon be transferred too. At the federal level, the biggest client for these prison companies is the Department of Homeland Security, which contracts with them to detain undocumented immigrants who face deportation.

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