Jelena Aparac, the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, said Thursday the US federal authority’s reduction of its dependence on private prisons is an “encouraging step” but urged the US to also end outsourcing of detention centers holding migrants and asylum seekers.
President Biden ordered the US Department of Justice not to renew its contracts with 12 privately owned federal criminal detention facilities on January 26.
Other experts urged the US to “eliminate all for-profit detention facilities”, saying that “detainees should not become units for profit.”
The Working Group has previously expressed concern over human rights violations at migrant detention centers. Experts have denounced involuntary sterilizations, the use of solitary confinement and violations of the right to healthcare.
In 2019, there were around 116,000 prisoners held in privately operated facilities, representing about seven percent of all state prisoners and 16 percent of federal prisoners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.