Criminal Justice

Justice Department plans to phase out privately run federal prisons

  • Print

hands on prison bars

The U.S. Justice Department is ordering the phase out of privately operated federal prisons after concluding they provide less safety and security than public prisons, while resulting in little cost savings.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on Thursday told officials in a memo that they should reduce the scope of private prison contracts after they expire or should decline to renew them altogether, the Washington Post reports. Thirteen federal prisons are privately run.

“The fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably to Bureau of Prisons facilities in terms of safety or security or services,” Yates told the Washington Post. “Now with the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something about that.”

The private prison contracts are all coming up for renewal within the next five years, Yates said.

Yates’ memo follows a report last week by the Justice Department’s Inspector General that found privately run prisons had higher rates of assaults and uses of force. The report said disturbances at several federal contract prisons had resulted in property damage, injuries and the death of a correctional officer.

Officials with the privately run companies responded that their prisons house largely noncitizens, and they have challenges that aren’t present at government-run prisons.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Prosecutors obtained video recordings of lawyer-inmate meetings at private-run federal prison”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.