WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reacted today to the release of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), report of the subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in August that as a result of an internal review finding that private prison facilities are less effective and more dangerous than those run by the government, DOJ would phase out its contracts with for-profit prison companies. Less than two weeks later, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would conduct a similar internal review of its reliance on the industry.
The lawmakers’ statements today come amid reports that DOJ renewed contracts after their claim in August that they would substantially reduce them, and as DHS announced that it will not end its use private for-profit detention as a result of the HSAC subcommittee report.
“To see the Obama Administration waver on something with such clear moral and ethical implications about our values as a nation is unacceptable,” Rep. Grijalva said. “This administration has allowed incarceration and detention profiteers to flourish under its leadership, with revolving doors between agencies and corporations ensuring lucrative contracts and cozy lobbying ties. The federal government cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of adults and children, their inadequate care, and the erosion of justice in our society. And now, just when the administration had the opportunity to move our nation in the right direction, they’ve decided to double down on for-profit captivity.
“We already know that the next administration will embrace for-profit incarceration; Trump is clear in his support for the industry, as is the industry’s support for Trump, too,” Grijalva continued. “The Obama Administration should be minimizing any precedent for Trump to point to once he’s in office. Instead, they’re laying the groundwork for him to embrace profit-driven incarceration and detention to an extent we have never seen before.”
“Due in large part to private detention centers, incarceration has been a source of major profits for private corporations,” Senator Sanders said. “But study after study after study has shown private prisons and detention centers are not cheaper, they are not safer and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state. We have got to end the private prison racket in America as quickly as possible.”
Rep. Grijalva and Senator Sanders have been tireless opponent of the for-profit prison industry for years. In December 2015, they joined forces to introduce the Justice Is Not For Sale Act, legislation that would end the federal government’s use of private detention facilities and implement justice reforms to help address mass incarceration in the United States. In addition, in September 2016, they jointly sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch urging her to push further in DOJ’s reliance on private prison contracts in directing the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) to follow the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) lead in phasing out these contracts as they come up for renewal.