Activists press call to bar private prisons

Members of the group “Never Again Action” build a sukkah to mark the Jewish holiday Sukkot, part of their call to occupy the State House to demand an end to for-profit prisons in Rhode Island. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

An agreement was struck Thursday between Jewish activists calling for the closure of the Wyatt detention center in Central Falls and Governor Gina Raimondo.

Members of the group “Never Again Action”, who have been calling for the closure of the Central Falls jail which holds Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE detainees had vowed to come to the State House, prepared to be arrested.

But several met before their scheduled protest with the governor, who voiced support for legislation to bar privately-owned prisons.

“President Trump’s actions on immigration are inhumane and immoral, and I stand with Rhode Islanders in opposing his policies,” Raimondo said in a statement. “I would support legislation from the General Assembly that prohibits private prisons in Rhode Island.”

“We think it’s a really exciting step that the governor of Rhode Island has said she supports one piece of our proposal, and she’ll be considering and looking into the rest,” said Aaron Regunberg, a former state representative from Providence who is among the organizers of the Rhode Island “Never Again Action” affiliate.

The group rallied in the State House rotunda, building a sukkah, commemorating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, vowing to continue to press to close the Wyatt prison.