Annapolis, Maryland — Today, Maryland Delegates introduced the Dignity Not Detention Act, a bill that would ban new state and local contracts with for-profit immigration detention companies and start to phase out existing contracts by July 2020.
Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement in response:
“Today Marlyand joins Illinois, California and Washington State in laying out a roadmap to end the United States’ shameful history of criminalization and reliance on incarceration as a profit-driven industry. It is a bold step in the right direction to strengthen our communities and reduce abusive and often deadly immigrant incarceration.
We know that ICE relies heavily on state and local governments in partnership with private companies to detain immigrants in exchange for huge sums of money to fill gaps in shrinking local budgets. Perverse financial incentives are the bedrock of the immigration detention system that continually drive the expansion of facilities and lead to more human suffering.
Instead of spending our taxpayer dollars criminalizing and harming families and communities, we must redirect as many of our public resources as possible toward investing in education, health care, green infrastructure and other programs that support our collective well-being.
We support the passage of this bill and demand that ICE and private prison companies be closely monitored and held accountable for any illicit scheme to expand the detention system as a result of this bill’s introduction. We’ve seen this happen in California as ICE will stop at nothing to circumvent state law and evade accountability.
This bill is a reflection of Maryland’s constituents values and the growing call across the country to end immigration detention.”
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.