Essex County Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson
On behalf of the Essex County Board of Commissioners, I offer my support for the Executive Order issued by President Biden on January 26, 2021, which mandates reform of the federal incarceration system via the elimination of the use of privately operated criminal detention facilities. Essex County Commissioner Vice President Carlos M. Pomares and I appreciate President Biden’s acknowledgement, in this Executive Order, of the legacy of racial bias that has been intrinsic in our mass incarceration system throughout the history of this nation. These inequities are sustained by the consistent underperformance of private detention facilities in providing the services, programs and resources that would support rehabilitation and reentry into society. This Executive Order serves to reduce profit-based incentives and encourage the prioritization of support and rehabilitation.
In 2020, I introduced a resolution calling for the elimination of private for-profit prisons in the state of New Jersey. The resolution, adopted by our Board on August 5, 2020, noted the historic legacy of the 13th Amendment which ended slavery in the United States – and also addressed the “Punishment Clause” of the amendment which has effectively relegated inmates, who are disproportionally people of color, to a virtual free source of labor – thereby extending the legacy and effects of slavery.
The President’s Executive Order shows a new commitment from the Federal Government to address the racial inequities in our criminal justice system, and I express my gratitude to President Biden for acting on this issue.