Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Is This The End For Private Prisons?

Is This The End For Private Prisons?

The Justice Department has announced a plan to end the use of privately operated prisons, as officials concluded that such private incarceration facilities are less safe, less effective, and present more security incidents, as opposed to correctional facilities run by the government.

As reported by The Washington Post, “Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday [August 18th] 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.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote in the memo.

According to a review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) by the U.S. Department of Justice, the BOP first contracted with private correctional facilities in 1997 to help with overcrowding issues. Federal inmates that involved low security were confined in private prisons. Those prisons housed around 22,660 inmates as of December 2015, making up 12% of the BOP’s total inmate population. However, it was reported that these privately operated facilities incurred higher rates of assaults (whether it be inmates on fellow inmates or inmates on staff), as well as an average of eight times more contraband cellphones confiscated annually. These disturbances have led to “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.”

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

You can read the full article on the Washington Post website.