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caption: A detainee's legs are shown chained together in the intake holding area on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at the Northwest Detention Center, recently renamed the Northwest ICE Processing Center, in Tacoma.
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A detainee's legs are shown chained together in the intake holding area on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at the Northwest Detention Center, recently renamed the Northwest ICE Processing Center, in Tacoma.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The end of for-profit prisons in Washington state is in sight

The Washington Legislature passed a bill Tuesday, effectively blocking for-profit private prisons from operating in the state.

The bill would impact only one facility: the Northwest Immigrant Detention Center in Tacoma.

The facility holds immigrants on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on federal civil charges, and is run by The GEO Group, a private prison company headquartered in Florida. The contract between The GEO Group and ICE ends in 2025.

During a final hearing, Senator Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, shared her support for the bill's passing.

"Most for-profit prisons operate a cost cutting scenario because they are beholden to stakeholders. These cost cutting measures often include reduced wages [and] benefits for workers, and poor health care and food quality."

An alliance of private prison companies, including The GEO Group were critical of the bill's passage, saying it was "nothing more than political theatre’."

The bill now heads to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.

In January, the Biden Administration passed a similar measure ordering the Department of Justice to not renew contracts with private prison companies. However, that order does not cover immigration detention centers.