A big hurdle in criminal justice reform in the United States is the abolishment of for-profit private prisons. In a system that already disproportionately convicts and incarcerates people of color, for-profit systems further exploit and profit off this system of injustice. As a major step towards racial justice and prison reform, the federal government is taking steps to abolish these prisons.
A new executive order calls on the Department of Justice to not renew contracts with privately operated criminal detention centers. There are currently more than 14,000 incarcerated individuals housed in privately-operated facilities in the US.
The concept of profiting off incarceration incentivizes a system to incarcerate more individuals, not less and undermines rehabilitation efforts. Furthermore, private prisons are more likely to cut corners and risk inmate health to increase profit margins.
Although criminal justice advocates commend the action, many are also calling for the elimination of privately-run immigration detention centers. A growing number of state governments have banned private prisons in recent years. 22 states currently do not house inmates in privately-run prisons with Illinois, Nevada, and California enacting the most recent bans
The expansion of this policy to the federal level is a substation move towards more effective prison reform.