The US government is already quietly backing out of its promise to phase out private prisons

November 27, 2016
Quartz

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Separately, the election of Donald Trump as president of the US has activists worried that the steps taken by the Obama administration to reduce the population of inmates in private prisons will be quickly rolled back. Trump has said outright that he supports prison privatization, and his plans for cracking down on illegal immigration would be a boon for prison operators: the stock prices of CCA and the Geo Group soared following his election

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“We are actually anticipating that the DOJ decision be quite possibly overturned. Either formally or they would be renewals or re-granting of the full contracts,” said Bethany Carson at Grassroots Leadership, a prison advocacy organization.

What has Carson and her group particularly worried is the president-elect’s promise to introduce mandatory minimums for illegal re-entry convictions after a previous deportation. Illegal entry and re-entry convictions already make up nearly half of federal prosecutions. The convicts are mostly held in thirteen so-called “Criminal Alien Requirement” (CAR) prisons, run by private companies, largely CoreCivic and GEO. Both facilities with which the BOP extended its contracts are CAR prisons.

Carson said that mandatory minimums would send average sentences for re-entry “through the roof,” and would require expanding the private prisons the DOJ said it would close in August.

“Expanding this existing system that federally prosecutes immigrants just for crossing the border to reunite with their families or flee dangerous situations could be one way to quite literally manufacture the so-called criminals he wants to deport,” said Carson.