As part of President Joe Biden’s agenda to address racial equity, a newly signed executive order instructs the Department of Justice not to renew private prison contracts.
The new policy is part of a set of four executive orders signed on Tuesday to tackle alleged systemic racism within the American federal government.
“No one should be profiteering off of our criminal justice system,” President Biden tweeted on Tuesday. “That’s why today, I ordered the Department of Justice to end the use of private prisons by the federal government.”
The policy was first adopted by the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president. Former President Donald Trump later reversed the policy during his tenure in the Oval Office.
CNBC reports that Biden claims he believes “we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation,” and added that “the simple truth is, our soul will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to persist.”
“I firmly believe the nation is ready to change, but government has to change as well,” said Biden.
According to Biden’s order, there are a “disproportionate number of people of color” currently in prison. It claims “privately operated criminal detention facilities consistently underperform Federal facilities with respect to correctional services, programs, and resources” that help former convicts reintegrate into society.
“There is broad consensus that our current system of mass incarceration imposes significant costs and hardships on our society and communities and does not make us safer,” it states. “To decrease incarceration levels, we must reduce profit-based incentives to incarcerate by phasing out the federal government’s reliance on privately operated criminal detention facilities.”
White House domestic policy advisor Susan Rice described the order as “just the beginning,” and confirmed that it does not apply to private federal immigration prisons currently under contract with the Department of Homeland Security. The Biden administration has not given any indication on what its plans are for the DHS facilities and those under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which currently uses private detention facilities to house illegal immigrants and criminals designated for deportation.