Michigan State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a bill that if passed would end private prisons in the Great Lakes State.
Senate Bill 489 would prohibit Michigan from contracting with any private prison company. The state’s only private prison, North Lake Correctional Facility, reopened this year after getting a 10-year, $370 million contract from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to hold illegal immigrants detained for immigration offenses.
“Prisons should not be run for profit, and their incentives are deeply insidious and contrary to our solemn responsibility to provide justice to all,” Irwin said. “These types of facilities make money from high incarceration rates and incentivize the prison’s revolving door, rather than reducing recidivism and improving public safety.”
Private prison inmates make up 8.5 percent of the United States’ total prison population, according to the sentencingproject.org. Private prison inmate populations went from 87,389 in 2000 to 128,063 in 2016, which is a 47 percent increase.
States sought private prisons as a cheaper option to lock people up when state prison populations increased by 115 percent in the 1990s.
The Brookings Institute published a study showing that private prisons are not more cost-effective than public prisons.
“Private prisons do not currently offer a clear advantage over their public-sector counterparts in
terms of cost or quality. The wide variation across prisons, differences between the public and privates sector, and data limitations render a comprehensive, direct comparison of cost and quality across prison sectors infeasible,” the study reads.
The U.S. Justice Department published a private prison study in 2016 that found private prisons were not as cost-effective as they seemed. The DOJ was going to end using private prisons, but that decision was reversed under President Donald Trump.
Twenty-three states do not use for-profit prisons.
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