President Joe Biden is facing his first hurdle in ending contracts with private prisons, a major campaign promise aimed at the progressive wing of the Democrat Party.
“The Biden administration’s push to end contracts with private prisons has left federal authorities in Cleveland scrambling to find ways to house nearly 800 inmates,” according to a report by Cleveland.com.
U.S. Marshals had a contract with Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, which is owned privately by CoreCivic. But when that contract expired Sunday, the Marshals had no place to send the nearly 800 inmates. The law enforcement entity, a branch of the Department of Justice (DOJ), opted to renew its contract with CoreCivic for three months.
For nearly 20 years, the federal government has had a contract with CoreCivic to house inmates awaiting trial in federal courts in Youngstown, Akron and Cleveland at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center.
In January, when Biden announced his plan to stop funding for-profit prisons, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), one of the left’s most prominent progressives, lauded the decision.
“This is great development [sic] & important step,” she said on Twitter. “There’s more to be done to end the for-profit caging of people in the US. We must include ending for-profit immigrant detention & examine the use of for-profit services that squeeze families of the incarcerated in public prisons, too.”
This is great development & important step.
There’s more to be done to end the for-profit caging of people in the US. We must include ending for-profit immigrant detention & examine the use of for-profit services that squeeze families of the incarcerated in public prisons, too. https://t.co/GyCXHLKcsq
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 26, 2021
But many are worried about the adverse effects of such action, including public defenders, and one civil rights attorney. They worry that there won’t be enough beds for inmates in northeast Ohio, and that if the inmates are moved away, they could have logistical problems with seeing their families, and even their lawyers.
“There are concerns about our ability to effectively represent our clients if they are moved outside the district,” northern Ohio federal public defender Stephen Newman told Cleveland.com. “Access to our clients is very important.”
Terry Gilbert, a civil rights attorney in Cleveland, shared similar concerns, though he noted that he does support ending private prisons.
“If they are going to terminate the contract, they better have some place that is safe – with health care, mental health and other programs, as well as access to private attorney visitation rooms,” he reportedly said.
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