Citing an audit report that demonstrated a decline in the number of federal inmates and that prisons run by private companies are substantially less safe and secure than ones run by the Bureau of Prisons, and feature higher rates of violence and contraband, the Bureau of Prisons will stop using some of these lockups.
The decision will impact roughly 22,000 of 193,000 federal prisoners. These inmates are housed at 13 privately run federal “contract” prisons, which primarily house “criminal aliens,” or noncitizens convicted of crimes, many of whom may be deported at the end of their sentences. They’re in California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina.
According to the Department of Justice memo, as each of these contracts comes up for renewal over the next five years, the bureau will “either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope.”
The policy shift will not impact the private operation of immigrant detention facilities.
It also does not change the situation in state prisons, where the vast majority of privately run prisons in the nation are located. In California for example, the reason many private prisons are contracted is to satisfy a court order to reduce overcrowding at state-run facilities.
There are currently 11 federal prisons in California including one private facility in Taft. This location is eventually slated for closure and any remaining inmates at this Kern County location will be transferred.