Statement from Vera President Nicholas Turner on President Biden’s Order for the DOJ to Phase Out the Use of Private Prisons

President Biden is right—our nation’s high incarceration levels, which disproportionately impact Black and brown people, are driven by profit-based incentives that pervert the justice system. His administration’s move to phase out the federal government’s reliance on privately operated prisons is a very welcome step, but it does not address the majority of profit-based incentives that lead to mass incarceration and those that the administration can eliminate.

If we are to eradicate money-driven incentives that lead to higher incarceration rates, we must address its presence in all prisons and jails. Today, many federal immigration detention centers continue to be run by private companies. The federal government is also responsible for creating perverse incentives for local governments by issuing contracts for local jails to hold imprisoned people for ICE and the U.S. Marshals. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture underwrites rural jail construction.

About the Vera Institute of Justice:

The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice. Vera collaborates with the communities most impacted by these systems and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement change. Across projects, Vera is committed to explicitly and effectively reducing the burdens of the justice system on people of color and frames all work with an understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, providing legal services for immigrants, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

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