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Biden order on private prisons causing concerns

YOUNGSTOWN (AP) — A January order by President Joe Biden to stop renewing contracts between the U.S. Justice Department and private prisons is causing concerns over what to do with nearly 800 federal inmates in Youngstown.

The privately owned Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown is used in part to house those awaiting trial or sentencing for federal crimes in northeast Ohio.

Prison owner CoreCivic’s contract with the U.S. Marshals Service ended Sunday. The company has received a three-month extension to give authorities time to consider alternatives. CoreCivic officials don’t expect the contract will be renewed.

Ending the Youngstown prison contract will leave authorities scrambling to find enough beds to house federal detainees and could make it difficult for family members and defense attorneys to visit if inmates are moved out of the region or state, officials said.

“Access to our clients is very important,” said Stephen Newman, the federal public defender for northern Ohio.

Biden issued his order Jan. 26 saying, “This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration.”

Just under 10 percent of the nation’s 152,000 federal inmates are incarcerated in private prisons.

Around 850 inmates are housed at the Youngstown prison for state crimes under a contract with the Ohio Bureau of Rehabilitation and Correction.

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