A Democratic state representative sent a letter urging Republican Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of the privately managed Gadsden Correctional Facility, which houses 1,500 female inmates.
A spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions said his move will restore the federal flexibility to manage the federal inmate population based on capacity needs.” The measure rescinds a DOJ decision last August to “substantially” reduce the use of private prisons, which then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates argued “do not save substantially on costs and … do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”
President Trump has authorized the use of private contractors “to construct, operate, or control facilities” in what is expected to be a substantial ramp-up of the massive detention system that thrived under the Obama administration. With the number of immigrant detainees already at historic levels, critics warn that rapidly expanding prisons will only exacerbate squalid living conditions and substandard medical care.
Industry analysts expect the President-elect to reverse the Obama administration’s order phasing out Justice Department contracts with private prison firms. One financial-services company calls private prisons “a compelling investment opportunity.”
Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, Tennessee’s largest prison, was told to stop accepting new inmates after the state found a litany of “serious issues” with its leadership, staffing, solitary confinement, and excessive force. A former military officer who worked there said, “I felt like I was in more danger when I was in the prison.”
Private immigration facilities likely would expand under a Trump proposal for mandatory minimum terms for people re-entering the U.S. illegally. One private company’s stock showed the highest gain on the New York Stock Exchange the day after Trump won.
Stock prices for the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America have surged since Trump’s election. Months after the federal government announced it was ending its use of private prisons, the president-elect’s law-and-order promises have given a new sheen to the financial viability of for-profit incarceration.
Analysts predict Trump will reverse Justice Department decision to phase out private prison contracts and will need more private facilities to handle the impact of his immigration policies. That would be a boon for the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group.
Private prison firm, once known as Corrections Corporation of America, becoming more of a real estate management firm than a corrections services company. Its stock price fell after U.S. Justice Department said it would phase out private prison contracts.