Leaked Memo Shows Trump Admin Wants To Increase Use Of Private Prisons

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s administration routinely directs prisons to transfer inmates who are “non-U.S. citizens” to use of according to a leaked Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) memo.

The memo, first obtained by the Government Executive, was addressed to public prison executives across the country, instructing them to submit lists of inmates available for transfer to private facilities. It lists four criteria for the inmates: They must be classified as Low Security; they must have a low risk for medical and mental health issues; they must have 90 months or less remaining on their sentences, and finally, they must be male non-U.S. citizens. The memo is routinely issued, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

“In order to alleviate the overcrowding at Bureau of Prisons’ institutions and to examine the effectiveness of private institutions, effective the date the date of this memorandum, please submit eligible inmates for re-designation … for transfer to private contract facilities,” the Jan. 24 memo reads.

Private prisons have experienced a massive boost under the Trump administration, giving the industry much-needed breathing room after former-President Barack Obama had actively tried to phase them out of the industry. GEO Group, one of the largest private prison organizations in the country, donated nearly $500,000 to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and held its annual executive meeting at a Trump hotel.

The leaked memo shows further commitment by the Trump administration to rely on private prisons to house illegal immigrants. GEO received President Donald Trump’s first contract for an illegal immigrant detention facility in mid 2017. The new contract caused the group’s stock prices to triple after years of decline under the Obama administration.

Many, however, find private prisons prone to predatory practices and remain in favor of phasing them out. The ACLU derides the industry, saying the for-profit model is responsible for “numerous cases of violence and atrocious conditions.”

Trump’s renewed emphasis on private prisons is interesting given his recent overtures to prison reform advocates. Trump went out of his way to say he would prioritize giving felons “second chances” in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. The message was well received by reform advocates such as Koch Industries.

“We applaud the president for acknowledging the need to change our policies and expectations around prisons, which are failing to equip individuals to successfully return to society and succeed,” Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden said in a statement. “The president’s support for this idea is very encouraging and we look forward to continuing to work with the White House, the administration, members of Congress and states to make this vision a reality nationwide.”

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