Georgia has the second largest share of privately run federal prisons after Texas.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently reversed an Obama-era directive for federal prisons to begin severing ties with private prison companies.
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Of the country’s 12 privately run federal prisons, Georgia is home to two: McRae and D. Ray James in the middle and south parts of the state. Only Texas has more.
Last year, the Department of Justice decided to cut ties with private prisons based on official and media reports that they weren’t keeping inmates safe or saving money. Azadeh Shahshahani is a human rights lawyer with Project South.
“Private prisons shouldn’t be in the businesses of incarcerating human beings because their incentive is to maximize profits for the CEOs and the shareholders,” she said.
More than 3,000 inmates are housed in Georgia’s privately run federal prisons. Prior to this new memo, the federal government said it planned to stop renewing private prison contracts.
Shahshahani said she worries that the shift back toward working with prison corporations signals a stronger future for privately run immigration detention facilities like south Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center, the largest on the East Coast. Another private immigration detention facility is opening in Georgia this year.
The Department of Justice has cited increased flexibility as the reason it’s reversing its private prison policy.