Six weeks after Mother Jones published its explosive undercover expose on the abuses, shortcomings and waste in America's vast private prison system, the Department of Justice has issued a ban on renewal of federal private prison contracts (where they are not able to do this, officials are told to "substantially reduce" the scope of those contracts), with the goal of "reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons."
However, the private prison industry has long been diversifying its activities, spreading out into domains where the people in their care have even fewer rights: halfway houses, electronic monitoring, mental health, and the "baby jails" where families awaiting deportation are jailed and subjected to horrific abuses.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates says that private prisons are deficient, and "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."
States, counties and towns are also significant consumers of private prison services.
As of December 2015, private prisons incarcerated about 22,600 federal inmates. The news of the DOJ's decision prompted a quick downturn in stock prices for the two largest private prison companies.
The decision was announced in a memo by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to the Washington Post. The memo directs department officials not to renew existing contracts or to "substantially reduce" their scope, with the goal of "reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons."
Justice Department Plans to Stop Using Private Prisons
[Pema Levy/Mother Jones]
Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
[Matt Zapotosky/Washington Post]