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US Department of Justice to Discontinue Privately Owned Prisons

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Aug 23, 2016

Upon conclusion of the Department of Justice's initial reports of privately owned prisons' lack of effectiveness and safety, a decision was made to sever and discontinue thirteen of its contracts.

On Thursday (August 18), Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates made the announcements and expressed the memo more in details to the media.

"They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs," Yates revealed.

As noted in the report conducted by Department’s Office of Inspector General,

"They do not save substantially on costs and, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security."

The report compiled by the Inspector General also, disclosed that private owned prisons had higher rates in violent incidents, pertaining to assaults of inmates against one another and inmates against correctional officers, and guards. Part of the safety issues in the report stated, privately owned prisons has a high rate of contraband and mobile phones that are confiscated each year. Furthermore, the thirteen private correctional facilities were contracted for inmates serving 90 months or transferred to finish their sentences in low security. But instead mayhem broke out in some of the prisons, leading to property damage, several injuries and the death of a correctional officer during the 2012 Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi. An incident involving 250 inmates, triggered by the lack of proper medical care and quality in meals.

 Mother Jones' editor-in-chief went undercover as a correctional officer in Louisiana, to expose the mayhem of privately owned prisons. In the 35,000 words exposé, published as a mini book with chapters, their investigative report disclosed what's really going behind the walls of these private facilities. From: poor housing living conditions, to low salaries for guards and correctional officers who put their lives on the line for $9 an hour and are required to work long hours, without overtime. Extreme punishments or unjustified punishments of their inmates, whereas one of them received an extra 30 days added to their sentences because of removing a broom from the wrong closet. The lack of mental health care, using tactics such as letting prisoners work outside all day to reduce their aggression, instead of counseling and providing effective measures to help them channel out or find the cause of their aggression. Neglectful management of dealing with letters sent to inmates, at times the inmates don't receive their letters which are thrown out, even letters from their own children. To the overall poor management of privately owned prisons and unprofessional wardens. Part one of the six series of Mother Jones' private prison investigate report, can be viewed below.

Aside from Mother Jones' investigation, the Department of Justice has been aware of the problems and issues of privately owned prisons, and the discussion to end them has been brought to the table several times. Terminating the contracts for these facilities will be done by protocols through a process of reviewing them individually for the next five years, leading to their expiration.

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Source: References of several news publications.