SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Justice Department says it will not be renewing existing contracts with private prison corporations following an executive order signed by President Biden late last month.
But Biden’s order exempts federal agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which sends many migrants to private facilities, including the Otay Mesa Detention Center in South San Diego. Tennesee-based CoreCivic operates the facility.
“People who started working in the prison industry started to see how profitable it was when they were able to make the claim they could do a better job with incarcerated people,” said Pedro Rios with the American Friends Service Committee.
Rios says with Biden exempting certain contracts with companies such as CoreCivic, it means those companies won’t have to transfer migrants from their detention centers to government-operated facilities.
“There’s a lot more that needs to be done,” Rios said. “The executive order itself will only affect a small percentage of the overall population of people incarcerated, it will definitely not affect people being held for immigration purposes.”
Critics like Rios say private prisons are making billions in revenue by housing just under 10 percent of the total inmate population in the country, adding that detainees, especially migrants, are often treated poorly.
“Unfortunately, what we do know is that there are fewer transparencies and abilities to ensure these facilities are not mistreating detainees in abusive conditions,” Rios said.
In a statement to Border Report, CoreCivic said: “We’re extremely proud of the critically important services we’ve provided to our federal, state, local partners of our 30 year history.”
It goes on to say, “our facilities are safe and secure for those in our care and our staff.”