US feds move away from private prisons

The latest organisation to review private prison contracts is the US Department of Homeland Security.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will decide whether it will end using privately operated prisons after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) called earlier this month for the phasing out of these facilities’ contracts with the government.
According to Reuters, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s instruction to his advisory council to review private prison contracts has hit shares of private prison operators.
The DHS division Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses private prisons for immigration detention.
First reported by The Washington Post, the DOJ earlier this month pushed to end private prison use by the federal government as it said private prisons are less safe and effective than government-run prisons.
A memo written by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates instructed officials to refuse renewing private prison contracts or “substantially reduce” the scope of contracts.
“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 said in the memo.
Initially, immigration detention centres like those used by ICE were not included in this directive. According to December 2015 data from the Centre for American Progress, 62% of the 34,000 beds for people under ICE custody were in private detention centres.
ICE private prisons include those operated by Corrections Corp of America and The GEO Group which stock prices fell 9.4% and 6% respectively after the news of the DHS review broke out.
According to Reuters, Corrections Corp of America earned $689m from ICE contracts since 2008. Over that same period, The GEO Group earned $1.18b from ICE contracts.

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