Biden to direct Justice Department to not renew contracts with private prisons

President will stop the ‘profiteering’ from federal prisoners, says his domestic policy adviser

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 26 January 2021 20:56 GMT
Biden to direct Justice Department to not renew contracts with private prisons
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President Joe Biden will sign an executive order directing the Department of Justice to end its contracts with privately run prisons, part of the incoming administration’s efforts to address racial injustice.

Susan Rice, the new president’s domestic policy adviser, said Mr Biden was stopping private prison companies from “profiteering” from federal prisoners.

“The president will sign an executive order directing the Department of Justice not to renew any contracts with private prison,” said Ms Rice at a White House press briefing.

"Private prisons profiteer off federal prisoners and are proven to be, or found to be by the Department of Justice inspector general, less safe for correctional officers and prisoners.

“President Biden is committed to reducing mass incarceration, while making our communities safer and that starts with ending the federal government’s reliance on private prisons.”

Ms Rice then confirmed that the federal government’s new policy only applied to Department of Justice contracts with private prisons and not those housing undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

Therefore it does not impact those prisons contracted with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security.

“In this instance it is not applicable to those run by other agencies,” said Ms Rice.

The use of private prisons to detain immigrants expanded under Donald Trump, with at least 24 facilities and more than 17,000 beds added during  the former president’s administration.

“It addresses the Department of Justice prisons in the first instance, it is silent on what may or may not transpire with ICE facilities,” added Ms Rice when pushed on the issue.

"There was a Department of Justice inspector general report in 2016 that underscored that private prisons funded by DOJ were less safe, less secure and arguably less humane.

“The Obama-Biden administration took steps to end renewing contracts for private prisons, the Trump administration reversed that and we are reestablishing it.”

Ms Rice also said that Mr Biden would sign an executive order “reinvigorating the commitment of federal agencies to engage in regular, robust and meaningful” consultation with Native American tribal governments.

He will also sign a memo directing all federal agencies to take steps against “xenophobia and act of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have been targeted by political leaders in our nation’s response to Covid-19”.

“For too many American families, systemic racism and inequality in our economy, laws and institutions, still put the American Dream far out of reach,” added Ms Rice.

Mr Biden will sign the executive orders on Tuesday afternoon.

“These are desperate times for so many Americans, and all Americans need urgent federal action to meet this moment,” added Ms Rice.

“Building a more equitable economy is essential if Americans are going to compete and thrive in the 21st Century.”

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