The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”
This announcement is welcomed to both inmates and private citizens; as a private citizen, I have been suspicious about private prison operators running the prisons – even though only 12 percent (13 facilities) of our prisons are being run by “for profit” companies. I’m sure most would agree.
The Washington Post article by Matt Zapotosky covers the “mechanics” of how and when the private prisons will be phased out. It has taken a long time for the federal Bureau of Prisons to figure out that it is not a good situation when you have profit-oriented contractors controlling some of the huge prison populations we have in the United States.
The Justice Department’s 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 had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report.
Another Washington Post article by Michael Cohen, published on April 28, 2015, covers the subject of how for-profit prisons had developed a very strong lobby in Congress: a subject which is not widely known about by John Q. Public.
In the 2015 article, Mr. Cohen stated:
Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office: Big Oil, Big Pharma and the gun lobby among them. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25 percent a decade ago, a Huffington Post report found. In total, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds.
As of June 2012, there were 130 private prisons, half owned by Corrections Corporation of America, and the other half, by The GEO Group, Inc. Evidently, there has been a whittling down of the numbers – big time – and the Justice Department has seen fit now, to end them altogether.
President Obama has made a slight dent into the inmate population by pardoning hundreds who have been given sentences that far outweigh the size of the crime. But, when the private prison industry is gone, I hope our sentenced offenders, still serving time, will get better, safer treatment under the watch of the federal government and not under the scrutiny of money-hungry and influence-peddling businesses.
“The Justice Policy Institute identified the private-prison industry’s three-pronged approach to increase profits through political influence: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships and networks.”
The private prison industry is fighting back. Take a look at this page on the Justice Policy Institute’s web site. Halfway houses, electronic monitoring, and health care. It is possible to have inmates committed into hospitals where they could stay for life, when prison terms are completed. This is an outrageous theory, but these companies are thinking of all the ways they can stuff their pockets at the expense of others.
There is no stopping the foaming-at-the-mouth intensity for more money of these for-profit companies who are very willing to prey upon the unlucky and down-and-out of our society.
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