Privately owned federal prisons will soon be a thing of the past said the Justice Department on Thursday. Officials have found that private prisons are not as safe nor as effective as prisons run by the government when it comes to providing correctional services.
In a memo released by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, officials have been instructed to either decline contracts with private prisons when it comes time to renew or to reduce the contract’s scope substantially. Yates wrote that the goal is to reduce, and ultimately end, the use of privately operated prison facilities.
The Deputy Attorney General continued, writing that privately run prisons do not provide the same level of resources, programs or services that government run prisons provide. Not only that, but privately run prisons do not save the U.S. taxpayers any substantial amount of money.
Although experts believe this change is significant, private federal prisons only house a small fraction of the inmate population in our country. The majority of incarcerated Americans are held in state prison facilities, both privately and publicly owned. Yates’ memo does not apply to any of those prisons. It also does not apply to those people detained by U.S. Marshals Service or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Both organizations are technically federally run, but not under the scope of influence of the federal Bureau of Prisons.
In December of 2015, the inspector general’s report revealed that some 22,660 federal inmates were being housed in privately run prisons, although the Bureau of Prisons website lists a slightly smaller number. That number represents roughly 12 percent of the total federal inmate population in our country.
The inspector’s report also showed that the Bureau of Prisons spent $639 million on private prisons in 2014.