The prison population in Utah and throughout the United States has long been out of control. The problem has become so rampant, even the President of the United States is getting involved. To reduce the amount of inmates, the Obama Administration had proposed reducing the amount of non-U.S. offenders housed in federal private prisons. But current President Donald Trump plans to scrap the Obama strategy and up to 1,500 new beds in privatized prisons. The move is expected to increase the population of private prisons to 22,894. In sharp contrast, the Obama Administration had planned to cut 7,200 beds, which would have reduced the private prison population to 14,200.
Do Private Prisons Work?
A 2016 Justice Department report revealed huge problems in the private prison system. The report conducted by the Inspector General indicates private prison had more incidents of lockdowns, grievances, positive drug tests and sexual misconduct per capita compared to state prisons. There were also higher rates of assaults involving inmates on their fellow prisoners along with those committed against prison staff.
Emphasis on the Immigrant Population
Many critics of private prisons blame the system’s emphasis on housing immigrant inmates for the larger amount of incidents. A Washington Post report cited the homogeneous demographics contributing to greater inmate misconduct. In some prisons, the population was overwhelmingly Mexican and were serving time behind bars for immigration issues. The increased emphasis on border control by the Trump Administration is expected to bring a boom in the private prison population. Another reason is the recent trend of prosecuting immigrants for re-entering the country rather than processing them for the deportation.
Private Prison Contracts Create Incentives for Overpopulation
Although Utah does not have any private prisons, it is home to the largest private prison contractor–Management and Training Corporation based in Centerville. The Bureau of Prison report also indicates private prison contracts contribute to these poor conditions by placing financial incentives that result in overpopulation. Some contracts even have quotas requiring at least 10 percent of the facility devoted to solitary confinement–nearly double the percent of prisoners kept in most prisons. Corporate profits should not come at the expense of prisoners at private prisons.
Shorter Terms and Clemency
Among solutions proposed by the Obama Administration were lowering the sentences and providing clemency to those convicted non-violent drug crimes, such as possession or distribution. But do not expect these policies to continue under the current administration.
Protecting the Rights of Prisoners and Those Charged with Crimes
Utah’s prisons currently house countless innocent people wrongly convicted for crimes they did not commit. Many did not receive or had access to proper legal representation. Whether a person is accused of a violent crime, sex crime or drug crime, it is important to have proper legal representation from a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. The legal team at White & Matern, PLLC is committed to placing each client in the best position to succeed. They utilize and aggressive and comprehensive approach both in the courtroom and behind the scenes to help clients achieve their goals. To learn more, contact their Salt Lake City law office today to schedule a free initial consultation.