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prison policy

Jeff Sessions reverses directive on reducing DOJ's use of private prisons

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday announced he is rescinding a directive from the Obama administration that instructed the Department of Justice to curtail the use of private prisons.

In an order, Sessions wrote that the earlier memo phasing out private prison use "changed long-standing policy and practice" and "impaired" the ability of the Bureau of Prisons "to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system." In recent years, due to changes in sentencing for some lower-level offenders, the federal prison population has been declining. Today, there are about 21,000 inmates being held in for-profit prisons for the Justice Department, down from a peak of 30,000, NPR reports.

Last August, Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, said facilities run by outside companies are not as safe, more expensive, and no longer "provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources."