Lisa McCormick applauded the Department of Justice’s decision to stop contracting with private prisons, which incarcerate 12 percent of federal inmates but warned there is more to be done.
McCormick said the DOJ inspector general released a damning report one week ago finding problems with the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons and that evaluation prompted the announcement from Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. In a memo Thursday, Yates instructed officials to either not renew contracts for private prison operators when they expire or ‘substantially reduce’ the scope of those agreements.
“This is welcome news, but it is not enough to satisfy the demands of justice,” McCormick said. “The authority to kill or cage a human being are among the most serious and significant powers reserved for the government and that is why armies, police forces and prisons should not be operated for profit.”
“The vast majority of people incarcerated in America are held in state prisons — rather than those federal jurisdiction, so this decision does not apply to most of the privately run facilities,” McCormick said. “Nor does it apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service detainees, who are not under the purview of the federal Bureau of Prisons.”
McCormick said the announcement also does not impact hundreds of community-based Residential Reentry Centers, or ‘halfway houses,’ operated by private companies across the country.
“The directive is limited to the 13 privately run facilities, where more than 22,000 inmates in the federal Bureau of Prisons system,” McCormick said.
According to Yates’ memo, “Between 1980 and 2013, the federal prison population increased by almost 800 percent, often at a far faster rate than the Federal Bureau of Prisons could accommodate. In an effort to manage the rising prison population, about a decade ago, the Bureau began contracting with privately operated correctional institutions to confine some federal inmates.”
When prison population and the number of prisoners in private facilities reached their peak in 2013, the federal government was housing approximately 15 percent of its detainees, or nearly 30,000 inmates, in privately operated prisons. The total number of federal inmates fell from nearly 220,000 in 2013 to fewer than 195,000 today.
“According to Yates’ memo, privately operated prisons ‘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.’ These facts are not news to anyone who has been paying attention,” said McCormick. “I urge officials throughout New Jersey and across the nation to take note of this development and act to shut down this barbaric industry.”
Lisa McCormick has been called "someone with transformational political talent" who is working to build upon the progressive movement ushered into being by Bernie Sanders. She is recruiting candidates to challenge New Jersey's political establishment in next year's primary election and beyond and has heard from hundreds of volunteers who say they are willing to take on entrenched incumbent Democrats who often behave like Republicans.