Move to End Privately Owned Immigrant Detention Centers in Congress

On February 11th, 2021, Arizona lawmaker Raul Grijalva reintroduced the “Justice Is Not For Sale Act.” This bill would phase out government contracts with private prisons and end immigrant family detention. It would also prevent companies from overcharging inmates and would “increase oversight of immigrant detention facilities to ensure humane treatment.” 

This bill addresses some of the shortcomings of President Biden’s January 29th executive order terminating federal private prison contracts. While Representative Grijalva described Biden’s order as “an important step to address the mass incarceration crisis that disproportionately impacts immigrants and communities of color,” his “Justice Is Not For Sale Act” would go even further. President Biden’s order did not mention private immigration detention centers, in which 81% of people in ICE custody are held. The “Justice is Not For Sale Act,” however, would specifically bar the Justice Department from contracting with private entities to operate immigrant detention facilities.

Representative Grijalva recognizes that imprisoning families seeking asylum is unethical. The bill would instead reinstate family case management programs. These programs have been proven to be more successful in “safely and efficiently guiding families through the asylum process.” This alternative focuses on helping asylum-seeking immigrants instead of using them for profit. 

The “Justice Is Not For Sale Act” is necessary. Private immigration detention centers are incentivized to limit expenses, which leads to higher reports of abuse and neglect. These centers rarely face accountability. Furthermore, these private centers profit off detainees, incentivizing higher incarceration rates. It is time for the United States to pass the “Justice Is Not For Sale Act” and finally end private detention centers. We must prioritize people over profit, always.


Read Representative Grijalva’s Official Press Release Here: