The new law has been signed on Friday by Governor Gavin Newsom, to end up the use of private lockup and immigration detention centers in America’s largest state prison system. This will restrict imprisonment in privately run facilities in California.
The new law bars the renewal of contracts with private companies to run state prison after Jan 1, 2020, unless it is court-ordered.
Newsom said in a statement that he had vowed to abolish private prisons in the state when he took office in January “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,” Newsom said.
There are 1600 inmates in three prisons running under the Florida-based GEO group, according to the corrections department. Contract with GEO Group expires in 2023 and will not get renewed under the new law.
“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,” Assemblyman Rob Bonta, an Oakland Democrat, and the bill’s lead author, said in a statement.
According to the reports from Homeland security watchdogs, immigrants face a lot of trouble in accessing medical care, showers, cloth, and mental health and they are being crowded into cells.
“Within the next one to five years, private immigration detention will be abolished for good in California,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder of Freedom for Immigrants.
Currently, there are 4000 illegal immigrants under four private detention centers throughout the state which fall under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
An ICE spokesperson told that the agency will most likely transfer detainees to “a greater distance from their arrest location.
“Thus, the only impact would be felt by the residents of California who would be forced to travel greater distances to visit friends and family in custody,” the spokesperson said. “The idea that state law can bind the hands of a federal law enforcement agency managing a national network of detention facilities is wrong.”
With the new law in action, California had joined New York, Illinois and Iowa in putting restrictions on private prisons.