The DOJ is Dumping Private Prisons

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has instructed all Justice Department officials to not renew their contracts with private prison corporations, beginning a long process to completely phase out the use of private prisons.

As of this writing, private prison stocks are nosediving.

Shares of GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America were originally halted on the news, but have since reopened, falling more than 20 percent. Both stocks were then halted again and again for volatility.

GEO shares were last down more than 47 percent, while CCA was down more than 52 percent.

The fact that our prisons and thus prisoners are a publicly traded commodity is really the whole problem, isn't it? There should not be a profit motive in law enforcement.

As someone with an extended family member who spent nearly 20 years in a prison managed by a private company, I find private prisons to be abhorrent. Unfortunately, most private prisons are not operated by the federal government, they're operated by states. With that said, this is a big first step toward eliminating them.

You should mark this down as yet another reason why Hillary Clinton must be elected as our next president, because a Trump administration would probably mandate that all prisons go private.

  • fry1laurie

    Another triumph for the free market!

  • That is fantastic news!!! I’ve been advocating against privatization of prison for over 20 years now. It’s a great step in the right direction.

  • Aynwrong

    Just to point out, this decision would not have come from a McCain or Romney administration. It should be morbidly interesting to watch how the freak out on the right plays out given that one would think people who claim to pride themselves on believing in a philosophy they call “Limited Government” would be appalled by the notion of a private sector prison industry. One who is actually familiar with the rolling shit show known as modern day Conservatism would be shocked if Conservatives ever showed such consistency. Or morality.

    Hopefully this helps spark a conversation or even some actual movement in doing away with all privately owned prisons. Federal, state and local.

    Every Liberal should be deeply proud that this decision came out of the Obama administration. The Glen Greenwald left style Liberals should go sit in a corner and ruminate.

    “Bu, bu, bu, but surveillance and drones make Obama worse than Bush…”


  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    In this nation, prison is about punishment, not reform. If you want to look at a successful penal system, look at the Nordic countries.

    But can you imagine the shit-fit that the Red Shirts would have if we turned out prison system a safe and clean place with good food, free education, job training, family and conjugal leave? As Shawshank put it, the only good use for more funds are “more guards, more bars, and more walls” – that’s the Red Shirt motto (only pausing to add “and more profit”).

    How is it not considered a violation of human rights what we do to our prisoners? I saw it on here just the other day – THIS BLOG FULL OF LIBERALS – a joke about prison rape. How is that funny? Haha, you’ll be forcibly violated in the most intimate ways in a system that practically encourages it. But it’s something we take in stride because we’ve become so acclimated to the idea of dehumanizing our most vulnerable. And why? Because Capitalism! Free Market! Small Government!

    And I’ll remind you, it costs far more to lock someone away than to provide a solid safety net. But try to get a conservative admit that – HA.

    • ninjaf

      There you go with your facts, again! Not enough truthiness in those.

    • Aynwrong

      Not that I disagree with you but the Nordic countries have a particular and peculiar quality that helps them in such an endeavor. Homogeneity. It’s easier (apparently) for a society to further civilize itself when everybody is genuinely thought of as belonging to the same culture and maybe even more significantly, looking the part. But that’s not the case in America so we get lots of “tough on crime” bullshit instead.

      Our so called melting pot doesn’t melt nearly as much as we like to think.

      • It’s not just the homogeneity. Their prisons haven’t become a catch-all for the mentally ill because they have a well functioning mental health system. Getting the mentally ill out of the revolving door of incarceration must be done as one of the first steps to serious reform.

        • Aynwrong

          Couldn’t agree more.

      • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

        You have a point, but I’d venture a guess that one of the biggest contributors is treating drug use/addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one.

        That, and as @IrishGrrl:disqus pointed out, stop using prisons in lieu of mental health facilities.

  • muselet

    It’s good news that the Department of Justice is moving to stop contracting with private prison companies.

    It’s even better news that those companies’ share prices are plummeting.

    Prisons are, as far as I can tell, generally not well-run in this country, in large part because our Lock-’em-up! Lawnorder! politics jam far more people into prisons than they can handle, and we as a nation don’t care what happens to someone who is imprisoned. That said, private prisons constitute an experiment that should never have been conducted.