Yesterday, new Attorney General (and doppelganger for the guy that played the Nazi leader in The Blues Brothers) Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama administration memo that sought to reduce the use of private prisons in the federal Bureau of Prisons.
To me, this means that the new administration has no interest in real criminal justice reform, even though the issue (as far as I know) has broad bipartisan report. As we all know, AG Sessions is a VERY conservative guy. You would think that he would recognize that it is more expensive to contract with a private prison than it is to house prisoners in BOP.
There are a lot of people in federal prison, particularly violent offenders, that are right where they need to be. I assume that it would be difficult to find anybody that really disputes that. But many federal prisoners are incarcerated for low-level drug offenses. Pres. Obama launched his “Clemency Project” to consider commutation or pardon for these prisoners(most of whom would receive significantly shorter sentences if they were convicted of the same offenses in 2017). It seems apparent that the new president and AG have no desire to try and reduce the prison population, even though study after study show that it makes good financial sense. One can only surmise that they are stuck in the old “law-and-order” mindset so prevalent in the 1980's and 1990's.
In Louisiana, not only do we have the highest per capita prison population in the world, we also have many private prisons. Private prisons house approximately 10% of all prisoners nationwide, but I believe the figure is significantly higher here in Louisiana. I can tell you from first hand experience that for the most part, clients hate being housed in private prisons. They are provided almost no correctional services, programs, and resources (as opposed to the Louisiana Department of Corrections, which does a good job with this). The facilities are roughly equivalent, but are less safe. The food is by all accounts MUCH worse, which can hardly be surprising considering that private prisons have an incentive to provide the cheapest slop possible. From a taxpayers perspective, privately run prisons are more expensive. Perhaps most significantly, private prison operators have an incentive to keep people in prison, as they are paid per inmate. I would be willing to guess this is why prisoners in private prisons receive twice as many “write-ups” (infractions) as those in non-private prisons.
Given the new administration's stance on private prisons, I suspect that more federal prisoners will be making their way back to those facilities. I'd be willing to bet that the percentage of state prisoners housed in such facilities will also increase. Both are a shame.
If you or somebody you love is in prison (private or otherwise) or you are in trouble and think you might go to prison, call the Law Office of Alex Kriksciun today!