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Rep. Grijalva Reintroduces Justice is Not for Sale Act to Defund Private Prisons

TUCSON—Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva reintroduced the Justice is Not For Sale Act. The legislation seeks to defund the private prison industry by barring federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private entities to operate private prisons and detention centers. Additionally the bill increases oversight of companies overcharging inmates and their families for banking and telephone calls and ends the use of family detention centers that have long been in violation of the 1997 Flores Settlement. 

“Mass incarceration destroys lives and tears families and communities apart, and the private prison industry is a driving force behind the mass incarceration crisis disproportionately plaguing immigrants and communities of color in our country,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “The detention of families and their children must end. This bill is the first step to ending the perverse profit incentives that have enabled these terrible policies and helps us move closer to a more humane justice system.”

A 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inspector general report concluded that private prisons had a 28 percent higher rate of inmate-on-inmate assaults and more than twice as many inmate-on-staff assaults compared with federally run or operated prisons. It’s increasingly recognized that private prisons are cutting corners, endangering corrections officers and prisoners, and not saving money. A study from the Arizona’s Auditor General in 2010 and another from Arizona’s Department of Corrections in 2011 found that it costs more to hold prisoners in private facilities than public ones. 

“As we face a national reckoning on systemic racism in law enforcement, it’s important that the for-profit prison industry is included in the conversation,” continued Rep. Grijalva. “It is long past time that we defund private prisons and end detention centers once and for all.”

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