Despite DOJ Order, Private Prisons Are Sticking Around

In August, a report from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) exposed private prisons as not only plagued with numerous problems — ranging from civil rights violations to the creation of unsafe environments for inmates and staff alike — but as failing to live up to one of their main promises: to be cheaper and more efficient than government-run prisons.

It did not take much time for the Department of Justice to come to a logical conclusion: Private prisons simply do not work. In a move applauded by civil rights advocates across the country, the DOJ announced a directive handed to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) stating that they would create no new contracts for private prisons in addition to allowing current deals to expire without renewal.

Without a doubt, this was a wise and laudable decision.

Unsurprisingly, companies like the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison operator in the United States, and GEO Group saw their shares tank. Suddenly, it looked as if the incredibly lucrative private prison industry was going to have the rug pulled out from under it, putting these corporations in panic mode.

This fear further surged after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced her intention to do away with private prisons entirely.

Such concerns, however, were short lived. Though the DOJ order will influence federal prisons that fall under the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ purview, it will not entirely eliminate private prison use on the federal level.

This is because of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), left unaffected by the August directive, operates as part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Justice.

As such, not only will ICE continue to use private prisons, it has begun to make moves to actually expand their use.

Earlier in October, the Corrections Corporation of America, after seeing its stocks veering for the gutter, experienced a major reversal of fortunes after ICE chose to extend its contract with CCA regarding the South Texas Family Center located in Dilley, Texas until 2021.

When this news was made public, CCA saw its stocks grow by a significant 20 cents in a single day. According to analysts, ICE’s decision helped assuage investors’ concern about CCA’s future.

What’s more, though U.S. Bureau of Prison facilities previously operated by CCA — now empty per the DOJ’s order — are unlikely to sit empty for long. This is because ICE has been rushing in to sign new contracts with CCA to repurpose former BOP prisons for their own use.

New Mexico’s Cibola County Correctional Center is the first such facility. Thanks to a new contract with CCA, ICE detainees will soon be refilling the Cibola County prison.

ICE is also inching toward doing the same with a jail located in Youngstown, Ohio.

Though it is worth pointing out that spiking gang violence in Central and South American nations have prompted a surge of immigration to the United States in the last few years, it cannot justify the use of private prisons — facilities that are demonstrably inferior in most ways to their government counterparts.

According to the Department of Justice’s damning evaluation, private prisons have been found to generally fail to satisfy six out of eight categories.

It should be patently clear at this point that privately operated prisons do not work. Allowing incarceration to become a for-profit industry is not only foolhardy, but it is also dangerous — perhaps the most troubling revelation in the DOJ report is that inmate-on-staff violence in private prisons is twice that of public prisons.

It is time to abolish private prison use by all agencies within the United States, not just those used by the Bureau of Prisons.

Photo Credit: Tomasz Wyszołmirski / Thinkstock

70 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y8 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y8 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J8 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J8 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Richard A
Richard A1 years ago

J.B.Sessions will most likely do his best to bring the Private Prisons roaring back to life, at max capacity.

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Joanne p
Joanne p2 years ago

:/

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Clare O
Clare O2 years ago

We're often told that people go into prison for one offence and come out a gang member. They have to join a gang for survival from violence in there. This would seem to be easily addressed by simple means like reducing socialising in large groups and giving people the opportunity to stay in solitary if they wish. Also by making gang related activity punishable every time.

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Clare O
Clare O2 years ago

If someone has genuinely been a serious offender several times over, the populace needs protection from them. So prisons must exist. We owe it to ourselves to make prisons clean and humane - if possible.

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Clare O
Clare O2 years ago

I don't see why the state can't run prisons.

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Clare O
Clare O2 years ago

According to journalism I have read in Disaster Capitalism, the American prisons profit from the labour of the inmates and therefore it is not in their interests for criminals to go straight. They want a person with a sentence served to go out and reoffend.

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