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Immigration Law

Sessions Rescinds Yates Memo; Private Prisons Are Back

Kate Wheeling, Pacific Standard, Feb. 23, 2017 - "It was only a matter of time before Attorney General Jeff Sessions backtracked on the Department of Justice’s earlier plans to phase out the use of private prisons. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union has been concerned about the former senator’s ties to the private prison lobby since October, when Geo Group—one of the biggest private prison corporations—hired two of Sessions’ former aides, David Stewart and Ryan Robichaux. On Thursday, Sessions issued a memo overturning the one put forth by Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, last August, which directed the Bureau of Prisons to reduce—and not to renew—any contracts with the prison corporations. The BOP began working with contract prisons in 1997 to alleviate the overcrowding issues resulting from the nation’s tough-on-crime policies. “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 August. A 2016 report from the Office of the Inspector General found that contract prisons couldn’t compete with the BOP’s facilities when it came to costs, security, or rehabilitative resources like education and jobs training for inmates. Despite the the report’s findings, Sessions wrote in a memo to the acting head of the BOP that Yates’ directive “impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system,” ABC news reports, and urged the Bureau to return to its old private prison practices."