New Lawsuit Follows Trump Administration Directive To Transfer Inmates to Private Prisons

WASHINGTON, D.C.Democracy Forward filed suit today against the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) after the Trump Administration refused to disclose the extent of their coordination with the private prison industry prior to taking actions that will benefit private prison corporations and increase the number of Americans held in for-profit prisons.

The complaint follows recent reports suggesting that the Administration’s “prison reform” efforts, which are led by Jared Kushner, are poised to provide a windfall to private prison corporations like GEO Group and Core Civic, both of which donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of President Trump.  

For example, in a recent DOJ memo titled “Increasing Population Levels in Private Contract Facilities,” Trump officials directed federal prison administrators to “submit eligible inmates for…transfer consideration to private contact facilities.”  The directive follows a private letter the Administration sent to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) in which officials assured the private prison ally of President Trump’s intention to “solicit for future private prison bed space” and “increase” the overall federal prison population going forward.

“Jared Kushner appears to think ‘reform’ includes paying for-profit groups to keep more Americans in prison,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “The American people deserve to know if Trump’s cronies in the private prison industry are behind these so-called reforms.”  

In May 2017, Democracy Forward filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking DOJ communications surrounding the Department’s plans to increase its reliance on private prisons despite the fact that the federal prison population was trending downward, and that these facilities routinely failed to protect inmate health and safety. The agency has, to date, failed to meet their full obligations under the federal transparency law.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.


Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

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