California Lawmakers pass a bill of closing ICE detention centers and private prisons

The lawmakers of California have passed a bill on Wednesday which bans the private prisons and detention center to operate in the state. The new move will close four larger immigration detention centers in which 4500 people could be imprisoned at a time. This legislation is a clear victory in the way of bringing criminal justice reforms in the state.

The bill removes the profit motives from imprisonment. California was relied on the private facilities for reducing the crowding in the state-run prisons. California is the fastest growing market for private prison companies. According to the report of the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the private prisons of California locked up 7000 people as recent as 2016.

The private prisons locked up 5% of the total imprisoned population of California. In the recent time, a huge number of prisoners were transferred from the private prisons to the state-run facilities. Only 2222 prisoners were kept in the private facilities as of June. Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, has not signed the bill yet. He signaled last year that he supported the ban on private prisons.

The Geo Group, a private prison company, runs four private prison facilities in California and it has a contract with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation of California until 2023. The contract will not be renewed under the new bill. The contract can only be renewed if a federal court gives an order to reduce crowding in the state-run facilities.

The new bill, AB32, is also the main point between the fight of California and Trump administration over the treatment of immigrants. The Geo Group opened the detention centers through complicated contracts. Lizbeth Abeln, a member of Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, said, “The private prison comes in and lobbies and promises jobs and tax money.” Abeln added, “This legislation is the most powerful we have had.”

Staff writer for the Chicago Morning Star

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