Three states have banned private prisons. Is yours one of them?

Regardless of federal policy, local legislatures still have the power to say no to private prisons

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

By now you’ve heard of the federal flip-flopping on whether or not to support the use of private prisons. For now, the Bureau of Prisons, which was initially the subject of a Department of Justice “phase out,” will continue to be one of for-profit detention’s biggest customers, alongside ICE and CBP. But, on the state level, the future of privatized prisons stands to be less certain.

MuckRock has compiled a list of states and statutes that allow your state Departments of Correction to contract with corporations like CoreCivic and GEO Group, or lesser-known outfits, like LaSalle Corrections.

  • Blue - Authorizing statute
  • Black - No specific statute
  • Red - State/local use banned under statute

Currently, only three states - Illinois, Iowa and New York, have outright banned the use of private prisons - this, however, doesn’t preclude federal agencies from establishing their facilities within these states.

Other states, like Maine and Rhode Island, don’t address, in particular, the ability of the DOC to contract with private operators and have become been battlegrounds for as-yet unsuccessful attempts to bring such contractors into the state.

And many of the rest either have specifically permitted the state to contract with private prison companies or else include such authorization as part of other statutes allowing private contracting to assist with prison operations.

Browse our map to check out what gives private prisons the ability to operate in your state.


Image via Flickr and is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0