U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., is continuing his work with two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, raising questions about private companies transporting prisoners.
Back in February, Deutch teamed up with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to write Joel Brasfield, the president of Prisoner Transportation Services, LLC (PTS), this week. According to Deutch’s office on Thursday, PTS is “a private prisoner transport company that contracts with state and local law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities to transport pretrial arrestees and prisoners across interstate or intrastate jurisdictional lines.”
Last week, Deutch an the two senators wrote Michael Horowitz, the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) “requesting that the IG conduct an audit of the private prisoner transportation industry and evaluate whether DOJ is conducting sufficient oversight of for-profit prisoner transport companies to ensure that they are complying with federal law and regulations.”
Deutch, Warren and Booker continued to take aim at PTS which they portrayed as a “leading prisoner transport company, and its subsidiaries have come under scrutiny following reports published by the Marshall Project and the New York Times detailing inhumane and unsafe conditions in PTS vehicles, including reports of unsanitary practices, physical and sexual abuse, and inattentiveness to basic and urgent medical needs of prisoners, many of whom have not been convicted of a crime.” They also noted at least five prisoners transported by PTS have died since 2012.
After making the response from PTS public last week, the three Democrats shifted their focus to how DOJ is handling the matter.
“The information in the responses suggests that, despite numerous reports of problems that endanger prisoners and the public, DOJ appears to be failing to provide critical oversight of private prisoner transportation companies,” wrote the three Democrats. “In order to ensure the health and safety of individuals being transported in these vans, we urge you to conduct an audit or evaluation of the for-profit prisoner transportation industry, and determine whether DOJ is conducting appropriate oversight of these companies.”
This is not a new issue for Deutch who asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons “to investigate reports of deaths and abuse of prisoners on for-profit transport vehicles” back in April 2017.
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