Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the Justice Department announcement that it plans to phase out the use of private prisons:
“I applaud the Justice Department’s decision to end its use of private prisons. The recent Justice Department Inspector General findings highlights the safety and efficiency problems common in private contract facilities, and gave the Justice Department the information they needed to meaningfully reevaluate their longstanding use of private prisons. While the changes in our justice system will not take place overnight, this is a positive step forward.
“The Department of Homeland Security should follow the Department of Justice and begin to systematically end its contracts with private detention centers. It is now more clear than ever that for-profit companies have no place in operating prison facilities, and we must move detainees with pending immigration cases that pose no risk to society out on to community-based Alternatives to Detention (ATDs). For those who pose too great a risk to release, we should have clearly established baseline standards for immigration detention centers that are owned and operated by the government. My bill, the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, outlines acceptable standards and highlights the need for increased use of ATDs, as well as the elimination of the detention bed mandate.
“To truly reform our broken criminal justice system and ensure we are building a more just society, it will take more than the closure of these facilities. Today marks a small victory, but one that must be followed with aggressive actions elsewhere in the government – including by Congress.”