California Gov. Gavin Newsom is considering a bill passed last week by the state legislature that would outlaw private prisons and may also shutter Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in the state.
The bill, AB 32, “would prohibit the department [of corrections] from entering into or renewing a contract with a private, for-profit prison to incarcerate state prison inmates,” except as part of any “any court-ordered population cap” on state prison populations. It also declares that “a person shall not operate a private detention facility within the state,” with several exceptions — none of which includes a detention facility or shelter contracted with ICE.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that Newsom ran on a campaign promise to “end the outrage that is private prisons in the state of California once and for all.” Several Democratic presidential candidates are also running on promises to ban private prisons — not because they are ineffective, but because they suggest that the criminal justice system has a profit motive in incarcerating more people. Critics note that private prisons are accountable for their treatment of inmates in ways that government-run prisons are not, and that they help reduce overcrowding.
Some privately run facilities would be exempted from the law, such as private drug rehabilitation facilities.
The author of the new California bill, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), amended it in June to “expand the scope of the bill to provide a general ban of for-profit, private detention facilities in California—including facilities used for immigration holds among other types of detention.”
The UK Guardian notes that the bill could result in ICE detention facilities closing in the next year by preventing contracts for existing facilities from being renewed.
Breitbart News visited a facility in El Cajon, California, last year where a private non-profit was housing minors, who had crossed the border illegally or whose parents had been arrested, pending release to relatives or sponsors.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.