Thursday, August 18, 2016

Prison Industrial Complexities

In a major move for prison reform, the Obama Administration announced today that it will no longer be renewing contracts with private prison companies for federal correctional facilities.

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government. 
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday 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. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.” 
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. 
The Justice Department’s Inspector General last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and saw eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report. 
Disturbances in the facilities, the report said, led in recent years to “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.” The report listed several examples of mayhem at private facilities, including a May 2012 riot at the Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi in which 20 people were injured and a correctional officer killed. That incident, according to the report, involved 250 inmates who were upset about low-quality food and medical care. 
“The fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably 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,” Yates said in an interview.

So 13 federal private prisons will hopefully be going away in the next five years or so.  Unfortunately that leaves two big questions: where to put the existing federal prisoners (many of whom are non-US citizens held as part of the deportation process) and what to do about the dozens of state prisons that are run by private contractors.  Both are still massive, massive problems that the next President will have to deal with.

Of course, if Trump wins, you can bet this directive will go away on January 21, 2017, so the first order of business is making sure Hillary Clinton wins.

On the gripping hand, private prison stocks CRATERED today.  I'm good with that too.

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