Washington Legislature Says No to Private For Profit Prisons

HB1090 that bans contracts with for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities in Washington state was passed on March 30. Photo/La Resistencia

PTLN 3.20.21

WA Legislature: No Private For-Profit Prisons and Detention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

From: La Resistencia 

March 30, 2021 

 

Washington Legislature Says No to

Private For Profit Prisons & Detention

HB1090 was passed through the WA Senate Floor March 30, representing a major win for years of human rights advocacy organizing

TACOMA, WA – At noon of Tuesday, HB1090 to ban contracts with for-profit, private prisons, and detention facilities, was seen by the WA Senate Chamber, where it received 28 ayes and 21 nays. The passing of the bill represents months of work by state legislators and years of organizing and advocacy in the community to pass legislation that would ban facilities which profit from mass incarceration and due to their profit motive, are marked by poor standards and health conditions for those incarcerated inside. 

Currently, the bill would affect the status of only one facility of this kind in Washington: the infamous Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), owned and operated by GEO Group on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Tacoma, WA. By banning new contracts with private detention operators, the bill would shut down the NWDC when its existing contract with the state expires and comes up for renewal in 2025. NWDC has a storied record of poor health conditions from rotten food, absnet medical care, long term isolated confinement amongst others. More recently in the past year there have been major outbreaks of COVID-19—with over 18 staff and at least 34 more detained inside testing positive—following minuscule and wavering attempts at implementing COVID-19 protocols.

In response to the poor conditions, migrants detained by ICE inside the NWDC have staged protests throughout the years with one Venezuelan migrant currently at 120 days of hunger strike and one woman with nearly two months of refusing food. They have been joined by organizing from the outside, as hundreds of community advocacy groups, legal groups, unions and more have come together to form the Shutdown Coalition in response to NWDC.     

This is a win of the People,” announced Maru Mora Villalpando of the grassroots undocumented immigrant led group La Resistencia, following the news on Tuesday. “Thanks to all that supported this fight throughout the years and thanks to all legislators.”

When signed into law by Governor Inslee, Washington will join California and Illinois in their statewide ban on private prisons and detention, and more than two dozen other states with similar or pending legislation. Nationally, there is growing consensus that the detaining of migrants or criminal offenders by for-profit corporations represents a grave threat to the values of human rights and dignity. 

La Resistencia is a grassroots volunteer undocumented led group fighting alongside people detained at NWDC to end all detentions, deportations, and to shutdown NWDC

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