California lawmakers pass ban on private prisons, including ICE detention facilities

California lawmakers pass ban on private prisons, including ICE detention facilities
Let my people go. Monarch, the last California Golden Bear in captivity, in photo ca. 1900. UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library

[Ed. – It’s a real question how far California can actually enforce this, especially if ICE were to locate all privately operated detention facilities on federal land (e.g., at former military bases).  But expect fireworks.  Right now at least two of the four privately-run detention centers are on land not owned by the federal government.]

The private prison industry is set to be upended after California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday banning the facilities from operating in the state. The move will probably also close down four large immigration detention facilities that can hold up to 4,500 people at a time.

The legislation is being hailed as a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. It also marks a dramatic departure from California’s past, when private prisons were relied on to reduce crowding in state-run facilities. …

The bill’s author, the assemblymember [sic] Rob Bonta, originally wrote it only to apply to contracts between the state’s prison authority and private, for-profit prison companies. But in June, Bonta amended the bill to apply to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s four major California detention centers.

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