U.S. Law Center

Private prison use may decline in California

When immigrants have faced detention in California and elsewhere in the United States, they may have expected to spend time in one of the nation’s private, for-profit prisons. However, the International Business Times explains that the U.S. Department of Justice plans to stop contracting with these private facilities, although some states may still decide to use them to ease the overcrowding of those who have been incarcerated.

Many believe that by preventing investors and corporations from having a stake in the prison business, lawmakers will not be under as much pressure from lobbyists who would profit from filling cells with immigrants. But, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is one government agency that is not bound by the federal decision, and according to representatives, there will be no changes to that agency’s policies.

In California, a bill has been authored that would mimic that of the federal government, prohibiting city and county governments from hiring corporations to house criminals. According to Southern California Public Radio, many believe that passing this legislation, called SB 1289, would reestablish the overcrowded conditions that sparked the move to privatize detention centers in the first place. However, the author of the bill indicated that poorly supervised and unsafe conditions currently affecting inmates in private facilities were among the concerns that prompted its authorship.

In addition to preventing new contracts between state governments and current private prisons, this legislation would mandate federal regulations for immigrant detention centers. Proponents of SB 1289 believe alternative situations could be arranged to ease the crowding without adding new facilities or taxing local jails with the overflow population.

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