By Sarah N. Lynch and Trevor Hunnicutt
The measures are part of a package of steps being taken by the new Democratic president to roll back policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump and promote racial justice reforms that he pledged to address during the election campaign.
“These are just some of the first steps,” said Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser.
Under the new policies, the Justice Department not renew contracts with private prison operators. Advocates have said privately operated prisons have contributed to an increase in incarceration rates and treated inmates poorly.
“Mass incarceration imposes significant costs on our society and communities, while private prisons profiteer off of federal prisoners in less safe conditions for prisoners and correctional officers alike,” the Biden administration said in a fact sheet.
Criminal justice and police reform advocates have called for a broader set of policy steps, including banning the use of the death penalty and reducing the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement.
Talks in Congress toward police reform stalled late in Trump’s presidency despite widespread protests connected with incidents including the death of a Black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020.
The Biden administration’s newly announced fair-housing policy will require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to study and counteract the racially discriminatory impacts of previous policies.
“The Fair Housing Act requires the federal government to advance fair housing and combat housing discrimination, including that appears neutral but has an unjustified discriminatory effect in practice,” the administration fact sheet stated.
Biden’s other actions on Tuesday will include underscoring the federal government’s commitment to Native American tribal sovereignty and condemning anti-Asian bias. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Herbert Lash, Ted Hesson and David Shephardson; Editing by Will Dunham, eather Timmons and Sonya Hepinstall)