This decision addresses only privately-run federal prisons, but the issue is of course far, far bigger. The problem with private prisons is not the prison part, it's the private part.
Giving tax dollars to for-profit companies to provide public services is worse that a mere horrific waste of money and an even more horrific abuse of helpless citizens. It's worse than incompetent, worse than counter-productive, worse than sabotaging the very idea of public services provided by public employees at public expense.
Privatization - which in most cases is invisible to the public - gives people the precisely wrong idea that government does not work and should be run like a business.
It's private companies making a profit off of the Common Wealth that always fails.
TPM took a deep look at private prisons here as part of a series on privatized government in general.The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote…The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report.
And that's where this prison story needs to lead: the millions of government contracts worth tens of billions of tax dollars given to private companies to do everything from janitorial work to running schools to nursing patients to undermining public safety as cops and firefighters.
Only government can provide public services, because only government is accountable to the public.
Now that we have proof that private contracts always cost more than public employees and always fail to provide adequate services, it's time to put an end to companies sucking off the taxpayer tit.