Actus Reus

ac·tus re·us \ˈak-təs-ˈrē-əs, ˈäk-tu̇s-ˈrā-u̇s\

noun : the wrongful act that makes up the physical action of a crime

Latin: guilty act

DOJ announces it will reduce use of private prisons

Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced, in a memorandum to the Bureau of Federal Prisons, that the DOJ intended to “begin[] the process of reducing – and ultimately ending” its use of private federal prisons. Noting that private prisons do not provide the same level of safety, security, or rehabilitative and educational services as government-run prisons, the memorandum instructed the Bureau of Federal Prisons to either decline to renew or “substantially reduce” private prison contracts after the current contracts expire.

The DOJ memorandum announcing the reduction of private prison usage can be found here. A recent Mother Jones article by Shane Bauer, who spent four months undercover as a private prison guard and wrote a lengthy piece exposing the dysfunction in the private prison industry, is available here.

Notably, although many news outlets reported the DOJ as declaring an “end” to all use of private federal prisons, the DOJ memorandum does not go so far. Nor does the memorandum acknowledge the many flaws in government-run federal prisons; instead it praises the work of the Bureau of Prisons as “superb,” “tremendous,” “consistent,” “often unheralded,” and “extraordinary.” The Government Accountability Office has reported that BOP prisons are overcrowded and unsafe, lack meaningful work opportunities, and offer inadequate rehabilitative programs.

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