State of Washington
67th Legislature
2021 Regular Session
ByRepresentatives Ortiz-Self, Fey, Fitzgibbon, J. Johnson, Ramos, Tharinger, Simmons, Ramel, Senn, Peterson, Gregerson, Ryu, Valdez, Callan, Kloba, Young, Hackney, Chopp, Lovick, Ormsby, Stonier, Frame, Santos, Macri, Orwall, Davis, Pollet, and Harris-Talley
Prefiled 01/05/21.Read first time 01/11/21.Referred to Committee on Public Safety.
AN ACT Relating to private, for-profit detention facilities; adding a new chapter to Title 70 RCW; creating a new section; and declaring an emergency.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.(1) The legislature finds that all people confined in prisons and detention facilities in Washington deserve basic health care, nutrition, and safety. As held in United States v. California, 921 F.3d 865, 886 (9th Cir. 2019), states possess "the general authority to ensure the health and welfare of inmates and detainees in facilities within its borders."
(2) The legislature finds that profit motives lead private prisons and detention facilities to cut operational costs, including the provision of food, health care, and rehabilitative services, because their primary fiduciary duty is to maximize shareholder profits. This is in stark contrast to the interests of the state to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of Washingtonians, including all inmates and detainees within Washington's borders.
(3) The legislature finds that people confined in for-profit prisons and detention facilities have experienced abuses and have been confined in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Safety risks and abuses in private prisons and detention facilities at the local, state, and federal level have been consistently and repeatedly documented. The United States department of justice office of the inspector general found in 2016 that privately operated prisons "incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP [federal bureau of prisons] institutions." The office of inspector general additionally found that privately operated prisons had "higher rates of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults, as well as higher rates of staff uses of force."
(4) The legislature finds that private prison operators have cut costs by reducing essential security and health care staffing. The sentencing project, a national research and advocacy organization, found in 2012 that private prison staff earn an average of five thousand dollars less than staff at publicly run facilities and receive almost 60 hours less training. The office of inspector general also found that people confined in private facilities often failed to receive necessary medical care and that one private prison went without a full-time physician for eight months.
(5) The legislature finds that private prisons and detention centers are less accountable for what happens inside those facilities than state-run facilities, as they are not subject to the freedom of information act under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552 or the Washington public records act under chapter 42.56 RCW.
(6) The legislature finds that at least 22 other states have stopped confining people in private for-profit facilities.
(7) Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to prohibit the use of private, for-profit prisons and detention facilities in the state.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2. DEFINITIONS.The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Detention facility" means any facility in which persons are incarcerated or otherwise involuntarily confined for purposes including prior to trial or sentencing, fulfilling the terms of a sentence imposed by a court, or for other judicial or administrative processes or proceedings.
(2) "Private detention facility" means a detention facility that is operated by a private, nongovernmental for-profit entity and operating pursuant to a contract or agreement with a federal, state, or local governmental entity.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3. PROHIBITION ON PRIVATE INCARCERATION.(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, no person, business, or state or local governmental entity shall operate a private detention facility within the state or utilize a contract with a private detention facility within the state. No state or local governmental entity shall utilize a contract with a private detention facility outside of Washington state, except as provided in RCW 72.68.010(2).
(2) A private detention facility that is operating pursuant to a valid contract with a governmental entity that was in effect prior to January 1, 2021, may remain in operation for the duration of that contract, not to include any extensions or modifications made to, or authorized by, that contract.
(3) In accordance with the legislative findings in section 1 of this act, this section does not apply if the involuntary confinement is at:
(a) A facility providing rehabilitative, counseling, treatment, mental health, educational, or medical services to juveniles who are subject to chapter 13.04 RCW, or similarly applicable federal law;
(b) A facility providing evaluation and treatment or forensic services to a person who has been civilly detained or is subject to an order of commitment by a court pursuant to chapter 10.77, 71.05, 71.09, or 71.34 RCW, or similarly applicable federal law;
(c) A facility used for the quarantine or isolation of persons for public health reasons pursuant to RCW 43.20.050, or similarly applicable federal law;
(d) A facility used for work release under chapter 72.65 RCW, or similarly applicable federal law;
(e) A facility used for extraordinary medical placement;
(f) A facility used for residential substance use disorder treatment;
(g) A facility used to house persons pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 4013; or
(h) A facility owned and operated by federally recognized tribes and contracting with a government.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4. LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION.This act shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of the purposes thereof.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5. EMERGENCY CLAUSE.This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6. SEVERABILITY.If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7. CODIFICATION.Sections 1 through 3 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 70 RCW.
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