Florida should follow U.S. lead, shed private prisons

By Paula Dockery

The U.S. Department of Justice announced it was ending its use of private prisons. The agency’s Office of Inspector General released a critical report that found the private-run prisons do not provide the same level of service, do not save on costs and do not maintain the same level of safety and security.

The scathing report, combined with the decline in the federal prison population, led to the decision to phase out using private companies to manage 13 facilities housing 22,100 prisoners — roughly 12 percent of the Bureau of Prisons’ total inmate population.

It won’t happen overnight. To achieve the goal of reducing and ultimately ending the use of privately operated prisons, officials are directed to decline to renew the contracts when they expire or to substantially reduce the scope of the contract.

While it’s a significant move by the Justice Department, it directly affects only a small percentage of total inmates. The vast majority of those incarcerated in the United States are housed in state prisons. In addition, the Justice Department action does not apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service detainees.

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