On the DOJ’s Decision to Stop Using Private Prisons: Detention is Prison, Too. Let’s End It.

The Department of Justice announced today that it will stop outsourcing federal prisons to private prison companies due to extreme levels of physical, psychological, and sexual violence and death in these facilities. While this is the result of decades of abolitionist organizing, activists insist that we not let this news distract us: Private, for-profit prisons will continue to operate as immigration detention centers, which is the fastest-growing area of the private prison industry. And the struggle to abolish all prisons and prison profiteering continues.

As Aviva Shen from ThinkProgress writes:

“While the decision will affect 13 federal prisons currently operated by private companies, the bulk of federal private prisons aren’t run by DOJ. In fact, the industry’s biggest client is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — a separate agency that relies on private prisons to hold immigrants, often in appalling and unconstitutional conditions.”

DOG private prison shutdown

As Jacinta Gonzalez of #Not1More explains:

“Until private incarceration and detention is ended all together, these facilities will just be recycled between agencies.  Private companies today will be looking for new customers and the Obama administration needs to make sure that no other government agency will be their clients.”

#Not1More on DOJ decision

On the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to open a new private detention center in Texas for transgender detaineesIsa Noyola of the Transgender Law Center says:

“Authorities’ statement that one center will be safer than another doesn’t address that the system of detention is an act of violence on transgender people who came to this country fleeing it. DHS should stop its plan to open a new private facility in Texas and stop its practice of detaining us altogether. We do not simply want the violence committed by a corporation to be inflicted on us by the state. We want transgender and LGBTQ to be free and for the systems that criminalize and cage us to be put to an end.”

In an article in Truthout, Dan Berger, author of Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era, says,

“This is another example of a more symbolic prison reform, which is what the prison reforms of the last few years have been… It makes a difference to some people’s lives, but it is nowhere near the sweeping and realizable changes that are needed.”

Below, watch “Queer Liberation: No Prisons, No Borders,” a video addressing these issues, by BCRW Creative Director Hope Dector and BCRW Activist Fellow Dean Spade:

As Angélica Cházaro reminds us:

“Prison isn’t good for anyone and detention is prison. Prison is prison. Let’s end that.”

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