A Senate panel, during the first week of the 2021 Virginia General Assembly session, which started on January 13, killed a bill introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin, a Democrat from Alexandria, that would have effectively prohibited privately run prisons in Virginia. Currently, Lawrenceville Correctional Center, a private prison operated by the GEO Group, is the only privately run prison in the state.
Senator Ebbin had said that the privately run prison operates based on making a profit and cutting cost, which effects the day to day operation including lack of adequate staffing and medical care of inmates.
Senator Joe Morrissey, a Democrat from Richmond, said the profit motive is also a problem at state-operated prisons, where he says inmates are gouged for things like aspirin or phone calls.
"They pay $1 or $1.10 or $1.50 a minute," he said. "It is that profit, which the patron said he is trying to take away, still remains in this bill."
Morrissey joined four other Democrats on the committee who killed the bill, allowing the GEO Group to continue running a private prison in Virginia -- at least until the current contract expires in 2023.