In June 2021, President Joe Biden said this: ”There should be no private prisons, period. None, period. That’s what they’re talking about — private detention centers. They should not exist. And we are working to close all of them.”
That same year, New Jersey passed a law banning private prisons and preventing the corporations that run them from signing any new leases to detain immigrants. The Elizabeth Detention Center, run by CoreCivic, is the last private detention center in New Jersey, and its lease expires on Aug. 31. Hoping to extend the lease, CoreCivic has filed suit against the state, claiming that the law is unconstitutional. The Biden administration, despite Joe’s expressed opposition to private detention centers, has inexplicably entered the lawsuit on the side of CoreCivic, claiming that closing the detention center would be “catastrophic.“
The concept of private detention centers is itself catastrophic. If we have a system that incentivizes us to lock people up, we will find reasons to lock people up. Let’s build a functioning immigration system that can evaluate asylum claims fairly without the deplorable approach of the EDC, where detainees sleep in a windowless, barracks-style warehouse room and have one bathroom per 40 detainees. It’s time to prioritize the legitimate welfare of asylum-seeking immigrants over the interests of profit-seeking corporations.
Jim Price, Montclair