In the wake of reports revealing major deficiencies in the nation’s private prisons, the Justice Department is unveiling a plan to permanently close the facilities.
Citing lack of safety, security and proof that private prisons do not “save substantially on costs,” the Justice Department announced Thursday a plan to end use of the facilities, the Washington Post reports.
The announcement comes just a week after the Department of Justice’s inspector general released a damning report revealing that prisons run by the federal Bureau of Prisons fared better than privately run facilities. The report concluded that private prisons had eight times as many cellphones confiscated each year and that disturbances caused “extensive property damage, bodily injury and the death of a Correctional Officer.”
A May 2012 riot at the Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi, prompted by lack of medical care and food quality, was also cited as an example of facility deficiencies.
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“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,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in a memo Thursday.
The closures could take some time. Of the 13 privately run facilities, Yates said the DOJ would review contracts that come up for renewal. Existing contracts would not be terminated, but all contracts would come up for renewal in the next five years, the Times writes.
According to the Times:
Yates wrote that private prisons “served an important role during a difficult time period,” but they had proven less effective than facilities run by the government. The contract prisons are operated by three private corporations, according to the inspector general’s report: Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation. The Bureau of Prisons spent $639 million on private prisons in fiscal year 2014, according to the report.
Currently, federal inmates in private prisons amount to about 12 percent of the Bureau of Prisons total inmate population.