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Euen McMurry
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Been railing against the use of private prisons for ages. Here's hoping state and local systems take heed and follow suit.

Full article below for the lazy:

Quote:
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.

In an interview, Yates said there are 13 privately run privately run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system, and they will not close overnight. Yates said the Justice Department would not terminate existing contracts but instead review those that come up for renewal. She said all the contracts would come up for renewal over the next five years.

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 had 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.

The problems at private facilities were hardly a secret, and Yates said Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons officials had been talking for months about discontinuing their use. Mother Jones recently published a 35,000-word exposé detailing a reporter’s undercover work as a private prison guard in Louisiana — a piece that found serious deficiencies. The Nation magazine wrote earlier this year about deaths under questionable circumstances in privately operated facilities.

It is possible the directive could face resistance from those companies that will be affected. In response to the inspector general’s report, the contractors running the prisons noted that their inmate populations consist largely of noncitizens, presenting them with challenges that government-run facilities do not have.

Scott Marquardt, president of Management and Training Corporation, wrote that comparing Bureau of Prisons facilities to privately operated ones was “comparing apples and oranges.” He generally disputed the inspector general’s report.

“Any casual reader would come to the conclusion that contract prisons are not as safe as BOP prisons,” Marquardt wrote. “The conclusion is wrong and is not supported by the work done by the [Office of the Inspector General].”

Yates, though, noted that the Bureau of Prisons was “already taking steps” to make her order a reality. Three weeks ago, she wrote, the bureau declined to renew a contract for 1,200 beds at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. According to a local TV station, the county sheriff said the facility’s closure would have a negative impact on the community.

Yates wrote that the bureau also would amend a solicitation for a 10,800-bed contract to one for a maximum 3,600-bed contract. That, Yates wrote, would allow the Bureau of Prisons over the next year to discontinue housing inmates in at least three private prisons, and by May 1, 2017, the total private prison population would stand at less than 14,200 inmates. She said it was “hard to know precisely” when all the privately run facilities would no longer have federal inmates, though she noted that 14,200 was less than half the inmates they held at their apex three years ago, a figure she said indicated the department was “well on our way to ultimately eliminating the use of private prisons entirely.”

“We have to be realistic about the time it will take, but that really depends on the continuing decline of the federal prison population, and that’s really hard to accurately predict,” Yates said.

According to the inspector general’s report, private prisons housed roughly 22,660 federal inmates as of December 2015. That represents about 12 percent of the Bureau of Prisons total inmate population, according to the report.

In her memo, Yates wrote that the Bureau of Prisons began contracting with privately run institutions about a decade ago in the wake of exploding prison populations, and by 2013, as the federal prison population reached its peak, nearly 30,000 inmates were housed in privately operated facilities. But in 2013, Yates wrote, the prison population began to decline because of efforts to adjust sentencing guidelines, sometimes retroactively, and to change the way low-level drug offenders are charged. She said the drop in federal inmates gave officials the opportunity to reevaluate the use of private prisons.

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.

Yates said it was “really hard to determine whether private prisons are less expensive” and whether their closure would cause costs to go up, though she said officials did not anticipate having to hire additional Bureau of Prisons staff.

“Bottom line, I’d also say, you get what you pay for,” Yates said.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/1...
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J
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Excellent, now we just need the States to follow.
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Mike Stiles
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So just in case people skimmed, the conclusion is this:

Privatizing prisons reduced the safety and quality of prisons, while at the same time NOT cutting costs.

And here I thought private industry could do everything better than the gov't could ><
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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Excellent news. Scale back the war on drugs and we'll be making real justice reform progress. Do the feds use bail formula reforms? I've been hearing about those lately for local judiciaries and the initial data looks really good.
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Xander Fulton
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TheChin! wrote:
Excellent news. Scale back the war on drugs and we'll be making real justice reform progress. Do the feds use bail formula reforms? I've been hearing about those lately for local judiciaries and the initial data looks really good.


A big reason the 'war on drugs' has been pushed with such fervor is that it was a HUGE money-maker for the 'for profit' prisons. With their influence being substantially reduced, it may be possible to get some traction on this.
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Wendell
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Good news. So many perverse incentives in the for-profit aspects of the legal, penal, judicial system.
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J.D. Hall
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jmilum wrote:
Excellent, now we just need the States to follow.

Oklahoma's Department of Corrections is pulling out of many private prisons in the state, although more due to budgetary issues than anything else. But those prisons stay full, thanks to states like Alabama, California, Kentucky, and Minnesota.
 
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Josh
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"My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard"

Excellent longform journalism.
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jeremy cobert
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jmilum wrote:
Excellent, now we just need the States to follow.


How exactly is a broke state like California going to do that ? borrow more ?

Also, private prisons make up less the 6% of all prisons so our data may not be very accurate.

Lastly, States can terminate private prison contracts, who watches the state prisons when the state also runs them ?
 
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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jeremycobert wrote:
Lastly, States can terminate private prison contracts, who watches the state prisons when the state also runs them ?
The ACLU?
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Trey Chambers
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windsagio wrote:
So just in case people skimmed, the conclusion is this:

Privatizing prisons reduced the safety and quality of prisons, while at the same time NOT cutting costs.

And here I thought private industry could do everything better than the gov't could ><


Which is exactly what would happen to every service Libertarians tried to replace with a private solution.

Letting private businesses run amok has never worked out well for society OR the consumer.
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J
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JoshBot wrote:
"My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard"

Excellent longform journalism.

Yes, that was a great piece.

Quote:
Conservatively, counting just the biggest chunks of staff time that went into it, the prison story cost roughly $350,000. The banner ads that appeared on the article brought in $5,000, give or take. Had we been really in your face with ads, we could have doubled or tripled that figure—but it would have been a pain for you, and still only a drop in the bucket for us.

MoJo did have support from three foundations for our criminal justice reporting. That’s amazing—but foundation grants only go so far. They are typically limited in time (a few years, tops) and scope (focusing on a particular issue or initiative). And they are finite: All of our foundation support put together accounts for roughly 15 percent of MoJo’s annual revenue.
http://m.motherjones.com/media/2016/08/whats-missing-from-jo...

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