Very big news for people who quite rightly despise the for-profit private prison-industrial complex! Barack Obama’s Justice Department has announced that it will END, like FULLY END, its use of private prisons for federal offenders. A memo signed by Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates states that, though private prisons served a certain purpose when inmate populations were insanely high, that “time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities.” It goes on:
They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security. The rehabilitative services that the Bureau provides, such as educational programs and job training, have proved difficult to replicate and outsource and these services are essential to reducing recidivism and improving public safety.
To say the least! Private prisons are the worst. Like there was this one in Michigan that actually forced inmates to eat GARBAGE. Another time, in Mississippi, it was found that guards were having sex with UNDERAGE PRISONERS. That’s just two little bitty examples, but they’re pretty bad, don’t you think?
The Washington Post notes that the widespread problems in privately run prisons — for one thing, a hell of a lot more assault, involving both inmates and guards, and per the inspector general’s report, “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer” in one case in Mississippi — are not some deeply-guarded secret. The WaPo cites an excellent investigative piece by Shane Bauer at Mother Jones that deserves ALL THE PULITZERS, called “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard” as a contributing cause for the Justice Department’s decision, so Wonkette extends a great big GOOD JOB, BUDDY to our pals over at MoJo, for doing work that’s actually changing public policy.
MoJo editor Clara Jeffery explains why she sent Bauer into a private prison, posing as a guard:
To see what private prisons are really like, Shane Bauer applied for a job with the Corrections Corporation of America. He used his own name and Social Security number, and he noted his employment with the Foundation for National Progress, the publisher of Mother Jones. He did not lie. He spent four months as a guard at a CCA-run Louisiana prison, and then we spent 14 more months reporting and fact-checking.
We took these extraordinary steps because press access to prisons and jails has been vastly curtailed in recent decades, even as inmates have seen their ability to sue prisons—often the only way potential abuses would pop up on the radar of news organizations or advocates—dramatically reduced. There is no other way to know what truly happens inside but to go there.
He certainly did go there, and as Jeffery says, what he found was “revealing as hell.” If you haven’t read the piece, please make some time to do so, it will make you smarter and a better informed human being.
Shane Bauer noted on Twitter that this is happening right now, as a result of this decision:
What a shame.
Deputy A.G. Yates told WaPo that she and her pals have been discussing kicking these nasty, horrible prisons to the curb for a while now, but notes that they won’t go away immediately. Instead, her memo directs that as the contracts come up for the 13 private prisons the federal government uses, they should be set on fire and thrown into the wastebasket of history. She said something more legal-like and professional than that, but you get the gist.
So there you have it. Obama’s Justice Department did yet another Good Thing, Mother Jones helped, and Wonkette awards eleventy-fifteen whore diamonds and a Make America Great Again hat (why not?) to all who contributed to making it happen. Mazel tov, indeed!