Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions—who is currently under pressure to resign for failing to reveal his meetings with the Russian ambassador before President Donald Trump’s inauguration—issued a memo reversing the Obama administration’s decision to phase out its use of private prisons at the federal level. This memo followed the release of a U.S. Justice Department report in August concluding that privately-operated prisons experienced more safety and security incidents than facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons did.
Since Sessions appears determined to move forward regardless, now is the right time to evaluate how to improve upon how the Justice Department contracts with private corporations to run some of its prisons. With a businessman in charge of the White House, this provides an opportunity to change private prisons for the better. A good first step would be to restructure contracts to make private facilities more accountable, effective, and strategic in their use of resources.
Sessions’s memo and Trump’s rhetoric about rampant crime in America’s inner cities indicate the nation may be headed for an uptick in the federal prison population in the coming years. Indeed, Sessions has pledged to increase prosecution of drug crimes and ramp up enforcement of immigration laws.
This excerpt is cross-posted from Fortune. Click here to read the full piece.