As part of his efforts to address racial injustice, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice to end its contracts with private prisons.
“This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration,” Biden said.
According to Susan Rice, President Biden’s domestic policy adviser, “there was a Department of Justice inspector general report in 2016 that underscored that private prisons funded by DOJ were less safe, less secure and arguably less humane.”
“Private prisons profiteer off federal prisoners and are proven to be, or found to be by the Department of Justice inspector general, less safe for correctional officers and prisoners,” she continued.
The new policy directs the Justice Department attorney general not to renew its contract with privately-operated prisons, AP News report.
“President Biden is committed to reducing mass incarceration while making our communities safer, and that starts with ending the federal government’s reliance on private prisons,” Rice added.
Before Biden’s executive order announcement, the federal Bureau of Prisons had already decided not to renew several contracts with private criminal detention facilities due to a decrease in inmates–many were given home confinement because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many in Biden’s administration view the order as a step in the right direction, one group sees it as “a solution in search of a problem.”
A spokesperson for GEO Group, a private company that runs federal prisons, stated, “given the steps the BOP had already announced, today’s Executive Order merely represents a political statement, which could carry serious negative unintended consequences, including the loss of hundreds of jobs and negative economic impact for the communities where our facilities are located, which are already struggling economically due to the COVID pandemic.”
While the new order ends the federal government’s reliance on privately-operated prisons, David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, mentioned that it does not end the dependency on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) facilities.
“The order signed today is an important first step toward acknowledging the harm that has been caused and taking actions to repair it, but President Biden has an obligation to do more, especially given his history and promises,” Fathi said.
President Biden’s latest executive order continues to use his first 100 days as president to undo Donald Trump’s decisions during his four years in office.
“We must change now,” the president said on Tuesday. “I know it’s going to take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well.”