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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The U.S. Department of Justice says they will be phasing out their use of privately owned prisons.

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It’s a move they say is meant to make sure their inmates are in the safest facilities possible.

The department says as each private prison contract reaches the end of its term, they will mostly not be renewed. For those that are unable to let the contract expire, the department is instructing them to “substantially reduce its scope.”

The department is citing a decline in the prison population as a reason for the move. They credit the decline in the population with a program called Smart On Crime Initiative that identified reforms meant to make sure inmates got sentences that were proportional to their crimes.

The federal prison population grew 800 percent between 1980 and 2013 – reaching 220,000 inmates. The growth prompted the department, about a decade ago, to look to the private sector to help manage inmates. From then on, they began contracts with private correctional institutions.

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By 2013, there were 30,000 inmates housed in privately operated prisons. That same year, they launched the Smart on Crime Initiative. The initiative, they say, helped shrink the number of inmates to 195,000 by 2016.

This decline in the prison population means that we can better allocate our resources to ensure that inmates are in the safest facilities and receiving the best rehabilitative services,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates with the Department of Justice.

The department says it is the first step in the process of reducing and “ultimately ending” their use of  privately operated prisons.

“While an unexpected need may arise in the future, the goal of the Justice Department is to ensure consistency in safety, security and rehabilitation services by operating its own prison facilities,” said Yates in a statement.

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Click here to read the full memo on the matter.