Feds Continue To Renew Contracts With Private Prisons


The U.S. Department of Justice said in August the federal government would look to begin to "phasing out" its use of private prisons, but three months later, private prison companies continue to win new contracts.

CoreCivic, the new name for the private prison company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, announced on Nov. 17 it had renewed its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to operate the McRae Correctional Facility in McRae, Georgia, according to The Tennessean.

"We appreciate BOP's continued trust and partnership with CoreCivic through the extension of our contract at the McRae Correctional Facility," said Damon T. Hininger, CoreCivic's president and chief executive officer. "I am proud of the high-quality service provided by hundreds of CoreCivic's corrections professionals at McRae, and we look forward to continuing to provide the BOP with flexible, cost-effective capacity solutions to address their needs as they evolve."

Two weeks earlier, on Sep. 30, private prison contractor GEO Group announced it was renewing its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to operate the D. Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, Georgia, according to Business Wire.

“We are very appreciative of the continued confidence placed in our company by the Federal Bureau of Prisons with this important contract renewal,” said George C. Zoley, GEO Group’s chairman and CEO.

In a Department of Justice memo on Aug. 18, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates wrote: “Today, I sent a memo to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Prisons directing that, as each private prison contract reaches the end of its term, the bureau should either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope in a manner consistent with law and the overall decline of the bureau’s inmate population.”

She added: “This is the first step in the process of reducing -- and ultimately ending -- our use of privately operated prisons.”

But Azadeh Shahshahani, a legal and advocacy director of Project South, an anti-racism group based in Atlanta, doesn't see how the renewal of private prison contracts indicate that's what's happening.

“This track record doesn’t show at least any short-term determination to abide by the mandate established in [the DOJ] memo,” Shahshahani told Quartz.

Sources: Quartz, The Tennessean, Business Wire, U.S. Department of Justice / Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington/Flickr

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