Justice Department Will End Use of Private Prisons


The Justice Department announced Thursday that its use of private prisons will be phased out over the next five years.

“They do not save substantially on costs and … they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said was the reason the Federal government was walking away from the massive use of private prisons.

The decision will not end the use of private prisons for immigrants detained by the Department of Homeland Security. About 62% of all ICE detention beds were operated by for-profit prison corporation like the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). These private prisons are notorious for poor conditions and frequent violations of the basic human rights of detainees.

The private prison corporations have also been staunch lobbyists against immigration reform because reductions in the number of undocumented immigrants would result in a decline in profits.

The same conditions that led the Justice Department to stop using private jails are true for private immigration detention centers. There have been many instances of guards using violence against detainees who are only in jail for violating immigration laws.

Stock prices for the Corrections Corporation of America plunged nearly 50% Thursday and investors seem to be pulling out of the jail-for-hire sector.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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