The Justice Department will no longer use privately operated prisons after concluding the facilities compare poorly to their federally operated counterparts, reports FedAgent.com.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision in a memo today, instructing officials to either decline to renew the contracts with private prisons, or substantially reduce their scope.
In her memo, Yates emphasized the goal of "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.
There are 13 privately run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system, and Yates admits they will not close overnight. In the next five years, all 13 contracts will come up for renewal, so instead of terminating existing contracts, the Justice Department will review contracts as they come up for renewal.
Last week, DOJ's inspector general released a report stating that private prisons 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.
The recent disturbances in these facilities contributed to "extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer."
"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.