Washington State bans use of for-profit detention facilities

A few months ago, we reported on a federal initiative to discontinue the use of privately-run for-profit prisons. It turns out Washington State is taking its own steps to halt the use of these unjust institutions with a new bill, approved by the governor, that bans for-profit detention centers in the state. 

Under the new law, the Northwest Detention Center, a 1,575-bed immigration jail in Tacoma, will be forced to shut down. The facility is run by GEO Group, a private prison company under federal contract. 

Matt Adams, legal director at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project told AP, “The enactment of this bill is an important step towards rejecting the privatization and profiteering model of immigration detention centers that has pushed the massive expansion of immigration detention. ”

The concept of profiting off incarceration incentivizes a system to incarcerate more individuals, not less, and undermines rehabilitation efforts. Furthermore, private prisons are more likely to cut corners and risk inmate health to increase profit margins. 

Experts expect the bill will face legal resistance from Geo Group. The company is already in legal negotiations after being sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson for refusing to pay state minimum wage to detainees who perform tasks such as janitorial services. 

We will continue to follow this story as Washington joins other states like California, Nevada, New York, and Illinois in banning for-profit and private prisons.

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