Justice Department does about-face on private prisons for federal inmates

In another undoing of Obama-era policy, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has authorized the Federal Bureau of Prisons to countermand an August 2016 decision by the Loretta Lynch-run Justice Department regarding the use of private prisons operated by corporations.

In a Tuesday letter to Acting Director acting of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Thomas Kane, Sessions wrote:

“The (Obama administration) memorandum changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system. Therefore, I direct the bureau to return to its previous approach.”

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced on Aug. 18 the Justice Department would decline to renew or reduce the use of private prisons with the intent of eliminating contracts with corporations which operate private prisons.

Approximately 22,000 of the 193,000 federal inmates are held in 13 prisons operated by the private sector.

The Obama administration had concluded the prison system was better managed by the U.S. government and had specifically noted federal prisons were safer.

A bulk of inmates incarcerated in privately-run prisons are illegal immigrants from Mexico serving time for immigration violations.

Of the 22,000 federal inmates housed in privately-run prisons, over 9,000 are jailed in Texas.

A supporter of private prisons, President Trump backed the privately-managed system in 2016 as a concept worth expanding to house offenders.

 

[Reuters] [Raw Story] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Huffington Post]