Joe Biden Orders DOJ to Not Renew Private Prison Contracts as Part of Racial Equity Platform
It has been announced that President Joe Biden will order his Department of Justice not to renew its contracts with private prisons, going back to the Obama-era policy that the Trump administration undid. This will be a key part of Biden’s attempt to create racial equity in America.
Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice spoke about this during a press conference on four orders Biden signed to advance that agenda: “For too many American families, systemic racism and inequality in our economy, laws and institutions, still put the American Dream far out of reach.”
This broad-focused racial justice agenda was a big part of his campaign, as he outlined plans for Tribal Nations, the Latino Community, the Black American community, and Asian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, as well. A very big table he is building, but it is a noble attempt especially considering no one president can do it all alone. Still, after four years of Donald Trump, I hope Biden puts a foot in everyone’s ass to do the right thing.
At the White House, 2pm ET, President Biden shared his racial equity plan during which he said that “the blinders have been taken off the nation” following the death of George Floyd. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that it took this video and a young girl losing her father in such a public way to wake up white America—you’d think enough Black folks had died already—but there is no denying that people were activated by it.
Biden outlined that he wants his administration to combat discriminatory housing practices, reform the prison system, respect sovereignty of Tribal governments, and fight xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in light of the COVID pandemic. He also spoke about LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, and other underserved communities.
On the specific topic of private prisons, the president stated that he has told the Department of Justice not to renew their private prison contracts and stated that they were both “less human” and “less safe.” Of course, there are those wondering what that will mean for organizations like ICE, which also use private prisons to hold families and children at the boarder. There’s also the issue of federal prisons, which fall under this justice department directive, vs. state prison systems that don’t, making it difficult to get rid of all private prisons without legislative action, which would be an even better solution. Still, while waiting for that kind of action, at least Biden is doing what he can with what falls under his control.
I have my skepticism in all things, but I am trying to be optimistic that despite his desire to bring people together, Biden is trying to lay a progressive-ish foundation. Even if he can’t get all the way there—he was voted in to be a centrist—I hope that with the language of equity in these plain speaking ways, we can normalize things that the right has disingenuously painted as too radical and far left.
This is a small step in the right direction, and if Biden can use his pardon powers to help free those incarcerated for minor drug offenses and other non-violent crimes with the help of VP Kamala Harris, it will go a long way in making those of us who voted reluctantly for Biden feel like he does care about the progressive side of the party.
(via CNBC, image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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