Notes on the Recent DOJ Decision To Move Not Renew Private Prison Contracts

Via Responsible Endowments Coalition

quartzNotes on the Recent Department of Justice Decision To Move Not Renew Private Prison Contracts

The Department of Justice announced on August 18 that it will begin transitioning away from federally contracted private prisons, essentially transitioning around 22,000 individuals currently caged in 13 for-profit facilities to publicly funded cages. This perplexing decision is not entirely unprecedented, as seen in New York and Illinois, which both passed legislation prohibiting the outsourcing of prison maintenance work to private corporations a few years ago. Within the first few hours of the announcement, reactions across the spectrum, and new demands surfaced. In my role as REC’s prison divestment organizer, it’s been hard not to feel a wave of emotion over the news, and still be skeptical about its implications.

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Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Color of Change and Not1More Call on DHS to End Private Contracts

On Monday August 29th, BAJI, Color of Change and Not1More issued the following statement in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s announced study regarding its use of private prison contracts. BAJI has joined with Color of Change to launch a petition calling on DHS to end its use of private detention once and for all. Sign and Share today.

DHS Must Follow DOJ Example, Cut Profit-Motive and Address Urgent Crisis in Detention

In the wake of the announcement that the Department of Justice would phase out its private prison contracts after a scathing OIG report, The #Not1More Campaign, Color of Change, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), and others called for the Department of Homeland Security, whose immigrant detention system makes up the larger portion of private facilities, to follow suit.

Department of Homeland Security: End All Detention Center Contracts with Private Prison Companies

Black-Prisoners-HandssmallerVia Color Of Change

August 18th, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they are ending federal contracts with private prison companies. This is a crucial step towards ending the impact of private prison companies on our justice system but we must continue to fight their influence.

The private prison industry has a long history of contributing to mass incarceration in the U.S. which has disproportionately criminalized Black people. There have been numerous reports that many private prisons operate facilities with even poorer and more dangerous conditions than usual affecting inmates’ health, safety, and well-being.

The Department of Justice’s decision marks a major victory for our movement to end mass incarceration but, unfortunately, the federal government is not ending private prisons completely.

SIGN THE PETITION: DHS End All Detention Center Contracts with Private Prisons

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Private Prison Companies Are Embracing Alternatives to Incarceration

They’ve hijacked the language of reform—but for them, it’s still business as usual.

Last Thursday, private prison stocks dropped like a rock when the Department of Justice announced that it would be phasing out its use of for-profit detention facilities. If you were an investor who had no ethical qualms about profiting from an industry that’s been accused of perpetrating a number of human rights abuses, it would have been a good time to buy. It turns out that reports of the industry’s imminent death have been greatly exaggerated.

Experts who track the business tell The Nation that as mass incarceration reform has become a bipartisan issue, private prison companies large and small have seen the writing on the wall, and are aggressively moving into alternatives to imprisonment. In fact, they say, the very same companies that have traditionally lobbied hard for tough-on-crime policies that would assure their facilities a steady flow of warm bodies are now embracing the language of criminal justice reform as they reach out into what they see as more lucrative markets.

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First Step in Shutting Private Prisons

adelantoA guard at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, Calif., in 2013. CreditJohn Moore/Getty Images

Via New York Times | Editorial Board | August 22, 2016

The Justice Department instructed the Bureau of Prisons on Thursday to start phasing out the use of private detention facilities, a watershed step that should be the beginning of the end of an industry that has had an insidious effect on the American justice system.

In a memorandum, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said that the decline in the federal inmate population made it possible to start terminating and winding down contracts with private prisons, which she acknowledged were substandard and less safe than government-run prisons. “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs and resources,” she wrote, adding that they also don’t “save substantially on costs.”

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Is This the Beginning of the End for the Private Prison Industry?

Via Alternet | By James Kilgore | August 22, 2016

 Photo Credit: idiz/ Shutterstock

Last week Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates seemingly turned the criminal justice world upside down. Her tool? A two-page memo to the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons that laid the groundwork for cutting off relations between the federal government and private prison operators. Citing the private facilities for excessive levels of violence, lack of “rehabilitative” services and failure to deliver on promised cost cutting, she directed the BOP head to “reduce” with the aim of “ultimately ending” federal contracts with private prisons. In the immediate future, BOP is either to “decline to renew” or “substantially reduce” the “scope” of each private prison contract when it ends.

However, while the political reverberations of Yates’ memo were enormous, its target is relatively small. Of the some 195,000 people in BOP facilities, a mere 22,000 are held in just 13 private prisons, less than 1 percent of the nation’s incarcerated population. Three companies control all of these prisons: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC). To further compound the issue, 11 of these institutions are a special category of facility known as Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons. These house immigrants who have a criminal conviction. Often called “shadow prisons,” CAR facilities have been controversial in immigrants’ rights circles since their launch in 2005 as part of President Bush’s notoriously anti-immigrant policy known as Operation Streamline. The majority of those in CAR facilities are Latinos.

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Sanders, Grijalva asking for swift end to private prison use

(Brian Corn/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

Via KTAR.COM | August 22, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Raul M. Grijalva are looking for a swift resolution after Thursday’s decision by the Department of Justice to end the use of private prisons.

Sanders and Grijalva asked the Department of Homeland Security Monday to end use of the facilities according to a press release.

The two wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

“Given the impact on detainees, the high cost to taxpayers and the Department of Justice’s recent decision, we believe the Department of Homeland Security can and should immediately begin phasing out for-profit, privately run immigration detention facilities. As each contract comes to the end of its term, the department should either decline to renew the contract or substantially reduce its scope.”

A move from the private prisons to community-based alternatives could save the federal government more than $1.4 billion a year.

Arizona has six for-profit prisons. Private prisons hold 12 percent of the prison population. The federal prison population, now at 193,299, has been dropping due to changes in federal sentencing policies over the past three years.