OLYMPIA – Today the Senate voted to prohibit Washington state from contracting with private prisons.

Senate Bill 6442, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), would prohibit the state from sending people to for-profit prisons outside the state.

The prohibition does not apply to facilities for involuntary placement for mental health, substance use rehabilitation, juvenile rehabilitation and similar services. It also does not prevent governments from contracting with tribal governments that own and operate jails.

“Incarceration is an inherently governmental function that should not be outsourced,” said Saldaña. “The public expects humane treatment and transparency, not privatization of public responsibilities.  We in Washington state are committed to ending the growth of the for-profit private detention industrial complex.”

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

“It is wrong and amoral to profit from the misfortune of others. 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.”

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.