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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

file photo
Department of Health announces QR code verification program to prove vaccination status

WA Verify is intended to make vaccine verification simpler and more efficient.

Mid-afternoon traffic on northbound Interstate 5 on Nov. 22 near Everett. Dan Bates/The Herald
Thanksgiving traffic forecast is heavier than pre-pandemic

Drivers and ferry riders could be in for long waits, depending on when they go.

(L-R): Hyunwoo Chong, Chase Hamdan, Arnav Rajashekara, Christopher Tebben, Grace Hopkins, Henry Cobb, Ellie Sampson, Vincent Chung, Ruoya Huang, Christopher Hamdan (courtesy of Eastside Catholic)
Ten Eastside Catholic students earn National Merit Scholarship commendation

The honored students share their aspirations and advice for younger students.

Patti Cole-Trindall
King County Executive appoints Patti Cole-Tindall as interim sheriff

Cole-Tindall has a background in the sheriff’s office and county government.

file photo
Downtown Issaquah to host art-centric event Sunday, Nov. 28

Artists Sunday will feature artists from around the region.

Comparison map between current district map and proposed draft. (Screenshot from King County’s website)
King County proposes redistricting map, asks for feedback from public

Public invited to comment at November 30 public hearing.

King County Councilmember-elect Sarah Perry and a celebration photo, courtesy of her campaign manager Robby Paige.
Sarah Perry pushes 20-year incumbent out of King County Council District 3 position

By Hannah Saunders, For Sound Publishing Following her first campaign for a… Continue reading

left: Russell Joe, right: Rose Zibrat (screenshot from King County website)
Russell Joe leads Rose Zibrat in city council race

Election results will be certified on Nov. 23.

courtesy of Derek Bauer
Issaquah native writes and directs new movie with Universal Pictures, titled “Two Yellow Lines”

The Northwest roadtrip movie centers around PTSD, forgiveness and the importance of connection.

Most Read