President Joe Biden on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to end the use of private prisons and recognize the central role the government has played in enforcing discriminatory housing policies.
Speaking before signing the order, Biden said the US government must change “its general approach” to the issue of racial equality. He added that the country is less safe and less prosperous due to systemic racism.
“We must change now,” said the president. “I know it will take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe that the nation is ready for change. But the government must change too ”.RELATED
Biden was elected president at a time when the country was deeply examining its conscience on institutionalized racism. The measures announced Tuesday reflect his determination to fulfill his campaign promises to combat racial injustice.
In addition to asking the Department of Justice to stop using private prisons and to address discrimination in housing, the new measures seek to strengthen the government’s commitment to respect the autonomy of the tribes and repudiate the discrimination that has been generated against Asian communities. from the United States and the Pacific Islands in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden also instructed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to take steps to promote a more equitable housing policy. In a memo, he asks the department to assess the effects of Trump’s regulatory actions that may have undermined fair housing policies and laws.
Months before the November election, the Trump administration withdrew a rule implemented under President Barack Obama that required communities seeking HUD funding to document and report patterns of racial profiling.
The order to cease the practice of privatizing the management of prisons contains instructions to the Secretary of Justice not to renew the contracts signed with private companies for that purpose. The measure will return the Justice Department to the same position it had at the end of the Obama administration.
“This is the first step toward stopping corporations from profiting by incarcerating people,” Biden said.
The more than 14,000 federal inmates housed in privately operated facilities represent a fraction of the roughly 152,000 federal inmates behind bars.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons had already chosen not to renew some contracts with private prisons in recent months as the number of inmates dwindled and thousands were released to house arrest due to the coronavirus pandemic.