Elizabeth Warren Promises to Ban Private Prisons, Immigration Centers

Men wearing neon-colored jail clothes signifying immigration detainees walk to pick up their lunches at the Theo Lacy Facility, a county jail which houses convicted criminals as well as immigration detainees, March 14, 2017 in Orange, California, about 32 miles (52km) southeast of Los Angeles. US President Donald Trumps first …
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pledged Friday to ban both private prisons and immigration centers if elected president.

On the heels of her remarks to National Association of Latino Elected Officials, the 2020 White House candidate vowed in a Medium post to outlaw both private detention facilities and private immigration centers, “by ending all contracts that the Bureau of Prisons and ICE have with private detention providers.” The Massachusetts senator stated:

We didn’t get here by chance. Washington works hand-in-hand with private prison companies, who spend millions on lobbyists, campaign contributions, and revolving-door hires — all to turn our criminal and immigration policies into ones that prioritize making them rich instead of keeping us safe.

Further, the presidential candidate contended the private detention system is guilty of breaching federal prison laws, while long engaging in forced manual labor and price-gouging, calling the abuses “exploitation, plain and simple.”

She then accused the Trump administration of enacting policies that have allowed the industry to continue thriving, writing: “With Trump, private prison companies saw their chance to run the same playbook for our immigration system.”

During a CNN town hall in April, Warren said the U.S. “should get rid of for-profit private prisons” and former inmates “need to be reintegrated into their communities” more efficiently.

“They need to be able to have a chance to get a job, to be able to find decent housing. And they need to be able to participate in the political process and that means they need the right to vote to be reinstated. They are American citizens,” the progressive firebrand said in New Hampshire.

In November, Warren and fellow progressive lawmakers accused the GEO Group, the country’s biggest for-profit corrections company, of lobbying efforts aimed at watering down “ineffective and infrequent oversight” of the industry. The GEO Group dismissed the allegations, arguing a portion of its facilities are, in fact, safer than government-run centers.

“For over three decades, GEO has been a successful service provider to the federal government with a longstanding record of delivering high-quality service to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Importantly, the services we provide for ICE today are no different than the service we provided for eight years under President Barack Obama’s Administration,” GEO Group said in a statement.

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