California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into law a bill that will phase out the use of all private for-profit prisons, including prisons and migrant detention centers in the Golden State.
AB 32 will prevent the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from entering into or renewing a contract with a private prison company after January 1st, 2020 and will prevent the state from keeping inmates in for-profit prisons starting in 2028.
“During my inaugural speech, I promised to end private jails because they contribute to excessive incarceration, including those who incarcerate California inmates and those who detain immigrants and asylum seekers,” the governor said in a statement.
“These for-profit prisons do not reflect our values,” he added on a measure passed in the midst of President Donald Trump’s effort to increase the numbers of arrests of migrants intending to deport them.
The two main private security companies in the country, GEO Group or CoreCivic, will be the firms most affected by the new measure, which had previously been approved by the Californian legislature.
The author of the law, Democrat Assemblyman Rob Bonta, applauded the governor’s decision and called it a historic moment for California.
“By ending the use of private for-profit prisons and detention centers, we are sending a powerful message that we vehemently oppose the practice of taking advantage of the backs of Californians in custody,” Bonta said in a statement.
In the same vein, immigrant advocates celebrated the signing of the law that also prohibits the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from hiring, modifying or extending an existing contract with a private prison.
Christina Fialho, co-founder and executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, said in a statement that “more than 70% of migrants in ICE custody are in private prisons”.
The activist asserts that “closing immigrant jails is an essential step toward dismantling a system that benefits from abuse and fills the pockets of private prison executives and industry shareholders”.
Fialho warns that with the enactment of this law, ICE will not be able to renew contracts for four facilities in the state that house approximately 4,000 people.