Growing Number of Local Jurisdictions Reject Correctional Privatization
by Monte McCoin
On May 8, 2018, the City Council in Tucson, Arizona passed a historic resolution by unanimous vote that prohibits “contracting with private, for-profit prison companies like GEO Group or CoreCivic (formerly CCA) for jail operations.” City Councilmember Regina Romero, who spearheaded the passage of the resolution alongside Tucson Vice Mayor Paul Cunningham, noted that “Profit should never be motivation for our justice system.”
The Tucson resolution closely followed a similar measure passed in December 2017 by the Board of Supervisors in Pima County, Arizona, and appears to follow a growing trend among municipalities to reject correctional privatization.
King County, Washington was one of the first jurisdictions to ban privately-operated facilities; the county passed legislation in August 2017 that prohibits contracts between the county and private prison firms to house either adult or juvenile detainees. [See: PLN, Sept. 2017, p.29]. And in April 2018, the Indianapolis City-County Council proactively prohibited privatization of the city’s yet-to-open new criminal justice center and jail with an ordinance that also dissolves the city’s current contract with CoreCivic when the old jail closes.
“No function of our government is more serious than when it deprives people of liberty,” said former PLN contributing writer Joe Watson, now a researcher with the American Friends Service Committee’s Arizona office. “It is immoral to hand this power over to a for-profit corporation whose primary allegiance is to their shareholders, not to the people incarcerated, their families, or the taxpayers footing the bill,” he added.
Sources: AFSC press release, www.kingcounty.gov, www.theindianalawyer.com