State Considers Prohibiting Privately Owned Prisons

[AUDIO] Washington lawmakers in virtual Olympia are rethinking the state’s use of private detention facilities. Dan Frizzell from the House Democratic Caucus has more.

ORTIZ-SELF: “There are currently 22 states that have banned contracts with private prisons. I want Washington state to be number 23.”

Unlike some states where private prisons are a big business, the they’ve never gained much of a foothold in Washington. And, if Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self has her way, they never will. The Mukilteo Democrat says the industry gets bad marks from human rights organizations and doesn’t save taxpayers money. Her House Bill 1090 would for all practical purposes seal the industry’s fate in Washington.

ORTIZ-SELF: “You know, there are some inherent basic needs that people are entitled to. Food. Water. Some sense of safety. And all of that is being compromised, and gets compromised, when your bottom dollar is to make a profit.”

There’s currently only one private jail in the state, the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. That controversial sixteen-hundred bed facility is owned by a corporation based in Boca Raton, Florida, and houses immigrants detained by ICE on the Tacoma tide flats. If Ortiz-Self’s bill becomes law, the center could remain in business until its current contract ran its course, but would be required to shut its doors for good at that time. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.

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