Beginning of Chapter  <<  70.395.010 >>   70.395.020


(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.
Site Contents
Selected content listed in alphabetical order under each group