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WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew an earlier Justice Department memo that set a goal of reducing and ultimately ending the Department’s use of private prisons:
“Attorney General Sessions has shown that he is not taking the mass incarceration crisis seriously. Continuing to rely on private prisons for federal inmates is neither humane nor budget-conscious. We need a justice system that can work better for all people.
In 2016, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates found that, ‘Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities. 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. The rehabilitative services that the Bureau provides, such as educational programs and job training, have proved difficult to replicate and outsource and these services are essential to reducing recidivism and improving public safety.’
People in private prisons are more likely to be assaulted, have less access to basic rehabilitative services, and leave worse off than when they arrived. If Attorney General Sessions is serious about increasing public safety, he should acknowledge that a smart-on-crime approach to fair sentencing and a focus on reducing recidivism through rehabilitation is slowly shrinking the largest federal prison population in human history.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.