Biden plans to limit private prisons and transfer of military equipment to police

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden is poised to issue executive actions as soon as Tuesday scaling back the use of private prisons and placing new limits on the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement, according to a person familiar with the matter and a planning document.

The executive actions are part of a broader push by the new administration to roll back controversial policies by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, promote criminal justice reform and address racial inequity across the United States.

Representatives of the White House and the Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Some of the Biden administration’s actions will reinstate policies at the Justice Department that were in effect during the administration of former President Barack Obama, according to the planning document circulated to congressional Democrats by the White House.

Following the fatal police shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Obama curtailed the federal government’s military equipment transfer program to local law enforcement amid a public outcry over its use.

The Obama-era policy placed limits on the types of equipment police departments could receive, and required them to justify the need for items like helicopters, riot helmets and “flash-bang” grenades.

The move to reduce the use of private prisons is also an Obama-era policy that was championed by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

The United States was rocked by street protests in 2020 over the killings of Black men and women by police, including George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. - Reuters