Three members of Congress asked Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to audit the private prisoner transportation industry and evaluate whether DOJ is ensuring that for-profit transportation companies are complying with federal law and rules. The request was made by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) Prison Transport Services (PTS) and its subsidiaries have come under scrutiny after reports published by the Marshall Project and the New York Times detailing inhumane and unsafe conditions in PTS vehicles. The stories include reports of unsanitary practices, physical and sexual abuse, and inattentiveness to urgent medical needs of prisoners, many of whom have not been convicted of a crime. Since 2012, at least five people have died in PTS’s custody.
Deutch, Warren and Booker wrote to PTS in February asking for information on PTS’ policies to comply with federal law. PTS said it implemented new standards in 2017, but the three members of Congress said the company’s responses suggest that “DOJ appears to be failing to provide critical oversight of private prisoner transportation companies.”