On October 11th, California Gov. Newsom approved legislation ending California’s use of private prisons and privately-managed immigration detention facilities. California has four contracts with for-profit, private prison companies for criminal detention and four civil detention centers operated by private companies in the state. By 2028, California will not have any for-profit prisons-facilities. On January 1, 2020, California cannot renew or enter into any contracts with private prison companies.
State Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who sponsored the bill, stated,
“By ending the use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities, we are sending a powerful message that we vehemently oppose the practice of profiteering off the backs of Californians in custody, that we will stand up for the health, safety and welfare of our people, and that we are committed to humane treatment for all.”
In one of the California private immigration detention centers, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center (operated by the GEO Group), the Department of Homeland Security found during a 2018 surprise visit–delayed medical care for detainees, unsanitary conditions in the bathrooms, and food service issues. A DHS inspection in 2018, reported abusive use of solitary confinement, and a number of nooses found in cells.
Other states, such as Ohio experienced, the ineffectiveness of state private prisons. In 2011, Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the United States, started managing the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. By 2012, Ohio state audits revealed inadequate staffing, negligent medical treatment, and “unacceptable living conditions” inside the prison. The deplorable conditions included inmates lacking access to running water and toilets. Because of the violations,Ohio docked the company nearly $500,000.
Since 2012, Colorado and Mississippi ended their use of private prisons.
The companies that manage private prisons are lured by the goal of profit. In order to increase profit, shortcuts are taken, which results in terrible living conditions, and less safety for inmates and correctional officers. Under private prisons, rehabilitation, successful re-entry, and recidivism are sacrificed for more profit.
Congratulations to California for ending their use of private prisons.