Renewing Our Commitment to Deprivatize Delco's County Jail

With the start of 2019, the Delco Coalition for Prison Reform declares its intention to redouble efforts to deprivatize George W. Hill Correctional Facility, the only privately-run jail in the Commonwealth. Rather than allow a private company to profit from the incarceration of fellow citizens, DelcoCPR commits to returning the prison to humane and fiscally responsible public management.

DelcoCPR is disappointed, but not surprised and certainly not deterred by the Prison Board’s recent decision to enter into a new contract with the private prison behemoth, GEO Group. In fact, several provisions in the new contract suggest that our community organizing efforts are having an impact. The new contract includes an 180-day early termination clause that would allow the Prison Board to unilaterally withdraw from the contract at will and an acknowledgement from GEO Group of the need for greater investments in security, health care and living conditions.

We are heartened by the early termination clause, but do not believe the current Prison Board is adequately or ethically managing this facility. It is time for County Council to bring the Prison Board into the modern era and ensure its accountability to the public.

Encouraged by the outpouring of public support and attention, Delco CPR’s 2019 action steps are:

  • Call on all current and future Councilmembers —specifically Councilmembers John McBlain, Michael Culp and Colleen Morrone— to join their colleagues, Councilmembers Brian Zidek and Kevin Madden, in making a commitment to “opt in” to Pennsylvania’s Title 61.

  • Educate the public about PA Title 61, which would establish a new County Jail Oversight Board, including elected officials and citizen members to maximize accountability.

  • Call on current and future County Councilmembers to provide greater oversight of this facility and its Prison Board. They must consider not simply the short-term costs, but also the long-term financial, human, legal and moral costs.

  • Call on current and future County Councilmembers, as the authorizing agents for contracts above $25,000, to terminate the contract with GEO Group and return the prison to public management.