December 12, 2018

Watson Coleman, Grijalva Call on House Leaders to Ensure Criminal Justice Reform Bill Ends Private Prisons

“We ask you to ensure that we vote on a criminal justice reform bill that truly delivers on the promise of reform — and for it to do that…it must ban for-profit prisons.”

Following reports that Congress may move to pass a criminal justice reform bill before the end of the year, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to ensure the final measure that reaches the House floor includes a ban on private prisons.

“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 immigrant children, is an evidence-based solution, or just submission to the will of private companies profiting from those incidences of imprisonment,” Watson Coleman and Grijalva wrote.

“If this body is to consider a criminal justice reform bill, it must focus on ensuring sentences are fair. It must seek to remove bias. It must find ways to better rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for society – keeping them closer to their families and training them for jobs when they’ve finished their sentences. It must find ways to remove the stigma and bias that follow the formerly incarcerated after they have served their time.  We ask you to ensure that we vote on a criminal justice reform bill that truly delivers on the promise of reform — and for it to do that and all of the above, it must ban for-profit prisons.”

Both Watson Coleman and Grijalva have been outspoken in efforts to reform the prison, rehabilitation and re-entry elements in the US criminal justice system. Watson Coleman is the author of the End For-Profit Prisons Act, legislation that would require the Department of Justice to phase out its contracts with private prison and community confinement companies, and requires federal employees to perform core correctional services – including housing, and disciplining offenders, at correctional facilities used by the Bureau of Prisons or the U.S. Marshal Service. Grijalva is the author of the Justice is Not For Sale Act, which bans private prisons, private detention centers, and contracts with private transportation companies; ends family detention; and removes ICE’s daily mandate to fill 34,000 beds with detainees.

To view full letter, click here.