California Bans For-Profit Prisons And Immigrant Detention Centers

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Private prisons will soon be a thing of the past in California.

On Friday, Oct. 11, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would eliminate private, for-profit prisons in the state, including those used for immigration detention, by 2028.

Newsom said in a statement:

“During my inaugural address, I vowed to end private prisons, because they contribute to over-incarceration, including those that incarcerate California inmates and those that detain immigrants and asylum seekers. These for-profit prisons do not reflect our values.”

Supporters of the bill say that private prisons contribute to a culture of mass incarceration and abuses within the prison system.

A 2016 U.S. Justice Department Office of Inspector General report found that private prisons spend less on personnel and are less safe than public institutions. “This is a total and complete failure, and it’s hurting and abusing Californians,” said state Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

The bill sets the stage for three private prisons in California – collectively housing about 1,400 inmates – to close within four years, when their contracts expire. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will also lose four privately-run immigrant detention facilities in California, which collectively hold about 4,000 people.

Beginning in 2020, the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation won’t be able to enter into or renew a contract with private, for-profit companies.

Bonta authored the bill and described Newsom’s signing as a “truly historic moment for California.” He said in a statement:

“By ending the use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities, we are sending a powerful message that we vehemently oppose the practice of profiteering off the backs of Californians in custody, that we will stand up for the health, safety, and welfare of our people, and that we are committed to humane treatment for all.”

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Sarah Halle Corey

Written by Sarah Halle Corey