Posts Tagged ‘private prisons’
January 26th, 2021 at 5:58 pm
President Biden’s Private Prison Executive Order Is Ill-Considered and Misguided

People should experience before they judge.

I say that in reference to the escalating national debate about private prisons, fueled even more by President Biden’s ill-considered executive action today ordering the Department of Justice not to renew its contracts with private facilities.

I would know, because I took the time to actually visit two private facilities – and could not have been more impressed. As I explained in an op-ed in March, I toured two re-entry facilities and was able to freely interact with staff and residents.

Everyone was filled with mutual respect, with the staff displaying genuine pride in helping residents succeed and providing them with the opportunities and tools to lead successful lives on the outside. Residents spoke with a newfound optimism and hope that they could finally break the cycle of incarceration.

In other words, the supportive atmosphere is the exact opposite of what many might expect, based on the media narrative and extreme rhetoric surrounding this issue.

As such, federal officials should take the time to tour privately managed detention facilities before hastily deciding to ban them. Unless and until that happens, President Biden should reconsider – and reverse – the executive action he signed today.

Any impartial examination of the facts and evidence show that companies such as the GEO Group, which manages private prisons and detention centers, are doing good work. GEO is so focused on providing services and promoting rehabilitation that it actually has a division for it: the Continuum of Care. The company invests $10 million a year into this forward-thinking division, and evidence of its effectiveness is growing.

A GEO study using Illinois Department of Corrections data, for example, shows that prisoners who graduated from a GEO Reentry Service Center re-offended at half the rate of other inmates.

Another critical misconception surrounds mass incarceration, for which many blame private prisons. Yet evidence shows that is simply wrong: only about eight percent of prisoners in the U.S. are held at privately run facilities.

In a recent law review article, Fordham University law professor John F. Pfaff put it plainly. “Mass incarceration is a public sector affair in the United States,” he wrote.

And as it turns out, it’s further unfair to hold private prisons accountable for mass incarceration because the overwhelming majority, if not all, of those housed in federal private prisons are criminal aliens, non-U.S. citizens convicted of federal crimes by courts of law.

They do not house U.S. citizens.

Those who oversee state-run prisons could learn a thing or two from privately contracted facilities and the sound, smart and humane management they offer. President Biden and those around him should take the time, as I did, to learn the facts.