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World

Biden to end use of private prisons for US federal inmates

  • It became a big and profitable business, with the prison companies publicly traded on stock exchanges.
Published January 27, 2021

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden ordered the end to the use of private prisons for federal inmates Tuesday, saying they incentivized throwing more people in prison without improving on government-run jails.

Biden ordered the Justice Department to phase out the use of private incarceration facilities, which house about 16 percent of federal prisoners.

"There is broad consensus that our current system of mass incarceration imposes significant costs and hardships on our society and communities and does not make us safer," Biden said in the order.

"To decrease incarceration levels, we must reduce profit-based incentives to incarcerate by phasing out the federal government's reliance on privately operated criminal detention facilities," he said.

Biden said private prisons, which house about 116,000 of the more than two million prisoners under federal and state supervision in the country, were worse than government-run facilities.

"Privately operated criminal detention facilities consistently underperform federal facilities with respect to correctional services, programs, and resources," he said.

"We should ensure that time in prison prepares individuals for the next chapter of their lives."

Private prison operators first emerged in the United States in the 1980s when the prison population began to explode, notably because of the war on drugs.

It became a big and profitable business, with the prison companies publicly traded on stock exchanges.

But, driven by profits, the prisons have been criticized for cutting corners in terms of inmate care.

They also have allegedly encouraged tough sentencing policies to keep their facilities full.

"Private prisons profiteer off of federal prisoners and are proven to be, or found to be... less safe for correctional officers and for prisoners," said Susan Rice, Biden's chief Domestic Policy Advisor.

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