Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Thursday the Justice Department would “rescind” the department’s previous directive to scale back the use of private prisons.
“I hereby rescind the memorandum dated August 18, 2016, sent to you by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, entitled ‘Reducing our Use of Private Prisons.’” Sessions wrote in a directive sent to the acting Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Thomas Kane.
“The memorandum changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system,” Sessions added.
The new directive withdraws Yates’ memo, which had asked the prisons bureau to “substantially reduce” its use of private prisons “in a manner consistent with law and the overall decline of the Bureau’s inmate population.”
“Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities,” Yates wrote in her memo.
She highlighted that private prisons no longer “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,” she added.
A Justice Department spokesman explained Sessions’ action by saying the new instructions would give the prisons bureau greater “flexibility.”
“This will restore BOP’s flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs,” the spokesman said in a statement.
Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Homeland Security made a similar move to wind down the use of private detention facilities. The actions adversely affected the stock prices of leading companies in the private prison industry.