Prison (Illustration)
Prison (Illustration) Reuters

The US Justice Department has announced its intention to stop using private prisons, after a recent audit concluded that private facilities are both less safe and less effective than government ones.

US Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates circulated a memo instructing officials to either stop renewing contracts for private prison operators, or to “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “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 added.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General released a report last week, which concluded that privately operated detention facilities had more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private prisons, had more inmate assaults, both on other inmates and on staff, and had eight times as many contraband cell phone incidents each year. The report added that the incidents, including a May 2012 riot at the Adams County Correctional Center, had led to “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.”

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