Biden Orders Justice Department to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons
President Joe Biden issued an executive order today to phase out the Justice Department’s use of private prisons.
As part of what the White House dubbed “equity day,” Biden signed an order directing the Justice Department not to renew contracts with private prisons, which have long been a target of criminal justice reform advocates.
“Mass incarceration imposes significant costs on our society and communities, while private prisons profiteer off of federal prisoners in less safe conditions for prisoners and correctional officers alike,” the White House said in a fact sheet, according to Reuters.
Civil liberties and criminal justice groups applauded the order, although it was far from their most significant demands of the new administration, which include ending the federal death penalty and ending solitary confinement.
“Today’s executive order validates something we’ve been saying for years: No one should profit from the human misery that is caused by mass incarceration,” David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national prison project, said in a press release. “Prison privatization increases the potential for mistreatment and abuse of incarcerated people, and this move by the Biden administration will start curtailing this insidious practice.”
In the grand scheme of the U.S. criminal justice system, the order will not have a significant impact. State prison systems hold the majority of the roughly 2.3 million incarcerated people in the country. And of the federal prison population, only 15 percent are held in private prisons.
Fathi noted that Biden’s order will not touch the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the immigration detention system, nor the private contractors the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) uses for other services, such as med
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