California To Ban ICE Detention Centers Housing Thousands of Immigrants After New Bill Clamps Down on For-Profit Prisons

California is set to deliver a major blow to the private prison industry after lawmakers voted to ban private prisons, including privately run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers across the state.

On Wednesday, 65 California State Assembly members voted in favor of AB-32, the new legislation seeking to ban private prisons, while 11 members voted against it.

The legislation still needs to be signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom before it can become law, but he is expected to support the ban, given that he himself called for an end to the "outrage of private prisons once and for all" in his inaugural speech in January.

If signed, the new legislation would come into effect after the 2020 presidential election "on or after January 1, 2020" and would prohibit California's government from "entering into or renewing a contract with a private, for-profit prison to incarcerate state inmates."

The bill does appear to make an exception, however, allowing the renewal or extension of contracts with private, for-profit prison facilities to provide housing for state prison inmates "in order to comply with the requirements of any court-ordered population cap."

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who authored AB-32, celebrated the bill's passage on Twitter Wednesday, priding California on being "on the verge of creating historic and needed reform."

"People are not commodities!" he said.

The legislation makes clear to point out that the bill should apply to any "private detention facility" where "persons are incarcerated or otherwise involuntarily confined for purposes of execution of a punitive sentence imposed by a court or detention pending a trial, hearing, or other judicial or administrative proceeding."

Therefore, the bill's passage not only represents a victory for criminal justice reform, but it is also a major win for immigration advocacy groups, who have long railed against the use of private prison companies to house detained immigrants.

Under AB-32, four large immigration detention centers with the capacity to hold up to 4,500 people could be forced to shut down within the next five years.

All four are currently operated by the Geo Group, a major prison services contractor operating facilities across the country.

According to The Guardian, the contracts for all four prisons are set to expire in 2023 and cannot be renewed under the new bill.

Initially, Bonta had reportedly only included the state prison authority's contract with private prison companies.

However, he rewrote the legislation in June to ensure that California's ICE facilities would be covered by the ban.

Newsweek has reached out to Bonta's office for comment for this article.

ICE
A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from his 'segregation cell' back into the general population at the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013 in Adelanto, California. California's privately run ICE detention centers, including Adelanto, could be forced to shut down under new legislation. John Moore/Getty
California To Ban ICE Detention Centers Housing Thousands of Immigrants After New Bill Clamps Down on For-Profit Prisons | U.S.