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Public Health New Mexico

Feds: Private Prisons Don’t Save On Costs

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There are 13 federal prisons around the United States that are run by private companies. One of them is in New Mexico. And today the Department of Justice said it’s going to stop using corporations to run federal prisons.

Privately run federal prisons don’t save much money, according to the DOJ. A recent federal report says they have more safety and security incidents per capita and need better oversight.

The federal Cibola prison in northwestern New Mexico is run by a corporation, houses 1,200 inmates and employs 300 people. Its contract was not renewed with the feds, and it will close its doors at the end of September.

Steven Robert Allen of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said one of the problems with private prisons is that they pinch pennies but it doesn’t pay in the long run.

"Cutting corners by low-balling these employees and doing everything to just save a few bucks is certainly not in the best interests of the prisoners but it’s also not in the best interests of our communities," he said. "Eventually they’re going to have to reintroduce these prisoners."

There are still five state prisons in New Mexico operated privately that shouldn’t be affected by the feds’ decision. The ACLU’s position is that the state should not renew those contracts, either.

"Operations are not up to par out there, and it’s not a very transparent operation either," Allen said. "If you want to get data about how prisoners are treated, what kind of health care they’re getting—if you want to even talk to inmates—it’s very difficult to do in those facilities."    

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