All Eyes on Crete, Illinois, As Senate Takes Steps Against Privatization of All Prisons and Detention Centers

Grassroots Leadership applauds the passage of Illinois SB 1064, which would prohibit the state from contracting “…with a private contractor or private vendor for the provision of services relating to the operation of a correctional or detention facility." The bill passed in 34-17 vote, and now  goes to the Illinois House.

In 1990, the State of Illinois banned most privately run detention centers and prisons through its Moratorium Act, which passed with bipartisan support.  The law has kept private prison giants like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group out of the Land of Lincoln ever since.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) had planned to change all of that in a proposed intergovernmental partnership between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Village of Crete.  The deal would have built a 700-bed facility in that community. Because this would be a federal, not a state or local detention center, the state would not have jurisdiction.

"Crete is best known for its role in carrying slaves to freedom as part of the Underground Railroad," says Grassroots Leadership ED Donna Red Wing. "The last thing we want to see is Crete being used to help turn a profit by taking people's liberty away."

At a recent village board meeting, some residents complained that the process has been secretive and that some information in the literature being distributed had been blacked out.  Many of the attendees also felt that the size of the  minimum-to-maximum security facility was too big for their small village.

"SB 1064, if passed by the Illinois legislature," said RedWing,  "would extend the privatization prohibition to cover even ICE facilities."