The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo

Lawmakers flinch on banning for-profit detention facilities

Last minute amendment exempted ICE detainment facility.

By Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service

Washington lawmakers elected to prohibit the transfer of inmates to out-of-state private prisons, except for specific reasons, after the Senate voted 30 to 18 in favor of Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6442.

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6442, said the bill is intended to help end the growth of an industry in which private entities profit from prolific incarceration.

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was proposed by Saldaña and adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. The original language of the bill likely would have had an impact on the ICE detainment facility in Tacoma.

Hannah Woerner, an attorney with Columbia Legal Services, testified to the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee in favor of the original bill. Woerner claimed privately-run prisons are more violent and less sanitary than public facilities, in part because they cut down on guards and medical staff in order to maximize profits. Woerner said private prisons are also more prone to deliver delayed medical care to inmates in need.

“Private prisons experience more incidents of violence than public prisons, and they have been shown to lead to increased recidivism,” Saldaña said. “The detention and confinement of individuals carries great responsibility, and these functions must not be motivated by private profits.”

The companion bill to this legislation, House Bill 2576, passed 60 to 38 on Feb. 17.

The companion bill directs the Department of Health to evaluate state and local practices for inspecting private detention facilities and enforcing policies on the health, safety and welfare of detainees. The results of the study could urge lawmakers toward the prohibition of private detention facilities in the future.

“There is an inherent injustice in making money from those who are incarcerated,” said Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, prime sponsor of the companion bill in the House. “It is a violation of human rights and is contrary to our democratic values.”

One of the versions of the legislation, or a merged version of the two, could be signed into law by the governor this session.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

A crew member works at the Sound Transit light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility in Seattle. Sound Transit plans to build a similar facility in either Federal Way or Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Sound Transit to release draft EIS March 5 for light rail maintenance facility

3 sites under consideration; 2 in Federal Way and 1 in Kent

West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology.
EPA loans King County $96.8 million to prevent untreated water from spilling into Puget Sound

Loan comes a week after an over 10 million gallon overflow into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Courtesy photo
Survey shows rent debt to be disproportionately distributed among minorities

More than half of Black renters surveyed said they owed rent money from previous months.

The Center at Norpoint, located at 4818 Nassau Ave NE in Tacoma, will soon become a temporary warming shelter. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Federal Way officials expect little impact from incoming NE Tacoma warming shelter

A community center in the neighboring limits of Northeast Tacoma will soon… Continue reading

South King Fire and Rescue's new Maritime Emergency Response Vessel will be similar to this model drawing. Courtesy photo
State provides $750K for new ‘floating fire engine’ for South King Fire

Maritime Emergency Response Vessel is the only resource of its kind between Seattle and Tacoma.

File photo
Husky injured in hit-and-run | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log Jan. 13-19

State Rep. Jamila Taylor is sworn in by Superior Court Judge Nicole Phelps with her parents, Dr. Quintard Taylor, left, and Carolyn F. Taylor on Jan. 10. Courtesy photo
State Rep. Jamila Taylor elected chair of Black Members Caucus

The Federal Way resident now leads the largest caucus of Black representatives in Washington state’s history.

A portion of the mayor's Black Lives Matter proclamation and call to action presented Monday, Jan. 18.
Federal Way mayor presents Black Lives Matter proclamation, call to action

Proclamation urges people to “exercise their patriotic responsibility to strive to challenge racism until it is no more.”

Photo courtesy of South Sound News
2-year-old child, woman rescued from Auburn house fire

Fire started in the garage around 11:40 p.m. Jan. 20 near the 30100 block of 50th Lane S. in Auburn.

Most Read