The Obama administration said on Thursday that it would begin to phase out the use of private for-profit prisons to house federal inmates. The Bureau of Prisons had resorted to such prisons to ease overcrowding as the incarceration rate soared, but the number of federal inmates has been dropping since 2013.
In announcing the policy shift, the Justice Department cited that decline, as well as a critical recent report by the department’s independent inspector general about safety and security problems in private prisons.
“Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own bureau facilities,” Sally Q. Yates, the deputy attorney general, wrote in a memo to the bureau. Such prisons, she said, “do not save substantially on costs,” and they provide fewer rehabilitative services, like educational programs and job training, that are “essential to reducing recidivism and improving public safety.”
Ms. Yates instructed the Bureau of Prisons not to renew contracts to use private prisons as existing ones expire, or to at least “substantially reduce” the number of beds that future contracts will provide.