NATION Obama administration to end use of private prisons August 18, 2016 at 12:44 PM EDT WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it’s phasing out its relationships with private prisons after a recent audit found the private facilities have more safety and security problems than ones run by the government. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has instructed federal officials to significantly reduce reliance on private prisons. As of December 2015, more than 22,000 federal inmates — or about 12 percent of the total — were in private facilities. That’s according to report this month from the Justice Department’s inspector general. The government started to rely on private prisons in the late 1990s due to overcrowding.