Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren Credit: Michael Brochstein / Sipa / AP

Almost three years ago, during his first week in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing the Justice Department to stop renewing its contracts with private prison companies. The news was like a glimpse of blue sky for critics of the controversial sector—especially after four years of Donald Trump, who had fostered a cozymutually lucrative relationship with the private prison industry.

The order restored an Obama-era policy first announced in 2016—and later suspended by Trump administration—after a damning federal report found that private federal prisons were less safe and less secure than their publicly run counterparts. No longer would the Bureau of Prisons sign deals with corporations to lock up people serving federal prison sentences. Nor would the US Marshals Service, in charge of detaining people while they await trial on federal criminal charges, enter or renew contracts with those same companies. 

Or, at least, that was the idea. And over the last three years, the Bureau of Prisons has indeed ended its use of private prisons—moving the roughly 14,000 […]

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