August 29, 2023

Rep Watson Coleman Statement on Ruling to Keep Elizabeth Detention Center Open

Today, following the US District Court's decision in CoreCivic v. Phil Murphy, finding in favor of CoreCivic to keep the Elizabeth Detention Center open, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) made the following statement.
"I'm deeply disappointed with the Court's decision. Its reference to the difficulty of ICE to find a replacement facility in the given time ignores the fact that AB 5207 was passed more than 2 years ago. The ruling's statement that AB 5207's effect would result in periods in which facilities would likely sit below capacity is hardly an argument in favor of extending private prison contracts. The goal of private prisons is to maximize profits. Profits should never be given consideration when it comes to the actions of our justice system and their impact on human lives. 

"The use of private prisons erodes the public’s faith in the integrity of American sentencing policy, leaving them to wonder if the impetus for lengthy mandatory minimums, or forcibly detaining immigrants, is an evidence-based solution, or just submission to the will of private companies profiting from those incidences of imprisonment. The horrible conditions at the Elizabeth Detention Center further erode the trust the people have in a fair justice system. 

"I will be appealing to President Biden to fulfill his pledge to end private detention of individuals, a goal of mine since before I ran for Congress."
On August 25, Congresswoman Watson Coleman lead a letter with nine other members of the delegation calling on the Department of Justice to rescind its support for CoreCivic, a private prison company, in its lawsuit against the State of New Jersey to overturn a 2021 law which prohibits state and local entities from entering into agreements with private detention facilities to detain noncitizens.