Friday, August 19, 2016

A blow against the private prison industry

The USA this morning announced that they were ending the use of private prisons in the federal prison system:

The US Justice Department will phase out use of privately owned prisons, citing safety concerns.

Contracts with 13 private prisons will be reviewed and and allowed to expire over the next five years.

"They do not save substantially on costs and ... they do not maintain the same level of safety and security," Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said explaining the decision.

Federal prisons are a small proportion of the US prison-industrial complex - most prisoners are held by states, not the federal government. still, its a powerful signal, and has been enough to send the share prices of these misery providers into freefall. No doubt they'll spend a lot of money on lobbyists to keep the states from following suit - but the precedent has been set.

Meanwhile, you have to ask: how long will we tolerate private prisons in New Zealand? Mount Eden has been a disaster, and there's been no suggestion Wiri is saving any money (while leading to accountability problems). Shouldn't we follow suit and ban private companies from our prison system?