Department of Homeland Security to Consider Abandoning Private Prisons

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Ever since the Department of Justice announced that it would soon phase out and abandon the use of private prisons in the United States, it appears other crevasses of Uncle Sam’s capitalistic foundation have been burning the midnight oil to determine whether they should do the same.

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed that it was assembling a special committee that was responsible for evaluating whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement should “move in the same direction” with respect to its detention operations. A press statement issued by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said that a panel for the Homeland Security Advisory Council would “review our current policy and practices concerning the use of private immigration detention and evaluate whether this practice should be eliminated.”

This decision is not expected to be one of those cases that drag out for a year or more. An official report on the subcommittee’s evaluation has been ordered for delivery to Johnson’s office no later than November 30.

As an analysis provided by Think Progress points out, a decision by DHS to abolish the use of corporate detention centers would be farther reaching than the announcement handed down mid-August by the Justice Department. That’s because while there are only 13 federal penitentiaries that stand to lose revenue from being cut from the government’s payroll, some of the latest statistics show that over 60 percent of the immigration detention camps in the United States are being run for profit.

Companies like Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, which recently boasted record profits, have already taken a substantial hit in profits following the Department of Justice’s decision to stop using private prisons. In fact, corporate stocks for these organizations are now valued at around 40 percent less than they were before the government determined that these facilities “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources” as those operated by the Feds.

A decision by the DHS to stop using private detention centers would undoubtedly castrate this industry’s profits even more – perhaps contributing to the eventual decline of private prisons.

These types of facilities have come under fire over the past few years because the facilities have been found to have less than desirable living conditions. Reports indicate that some of these detention centers, specifically Karnes Detention Camp, in Texas, have forced occupants to drink contaminated water and become victims of sexual assault. But despite the foul odor surrounding these for-profit prison, the federal government continues to pour more money into them than ever before – from $700 million back in 2005 to currently more than $2 billion.

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