According to The Sentencing Project, private prisons nationwide held 128,063 people in 2016. This number represents 8.5% of the federal prison population. Since the beginning of this decade, the private prison population increased 47%. On September 11, 2019, a new law made California the first state to end its use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities. This ban on private prisons will change the issue of mass incarceration and influence the criminal justice system and the criminal process overall.
Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) Bans Private Prisons
Assembly Bill 32 was passed on September 11, 2019, by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Newsom on October 11, 2019. It has been added to the California Penal Code, and bans the use of private, for-profit prisons and detention facilities.
The law prohibits the Department of Corrections from entering into contracts, on or after January 1, 2020, with private facilities in state or out of state. The same law applies for the renewal of existing contracts.
By January 2028, all contracts will be phased out and the State of California can no longer hold inmates in any private prison or detention facility.
The Impact of the AB 32
An article in CBS News reveals that AB 32 impacts over 1,400 inmates and 4,000 detainees that are currently housed in private prisons and detention facilities.
The Law Does Not Apply to Certain Facilities
It is important to note that the new law comes with exceptions mentioned in Section 9502. The law does not apply to any of the following facilities:
- Rehab, counseling, mental health, educational facilities
- Residential care facilities
- Evaluation or treatment facilities
- Vocational or medical facilities
- School facilities used for disciplinary detention
- Facilities used for quarantine or isolation for public health reasons
- Temporary detention facilities
Additionally, the law does not apply to private facilities operating with a valid contract with a governmental entity that was in effect prior to January 1, 2020.
For a list of additional exceptions and to read the bill in its entirety, you are invited to review Assembly Bill 32 on the California Legislature website.
California and its Criminal Justice Reform Measures
NBC San Diego reports that the State of California’s inmate population has been declining due to measures to ease criminal sentences. According to the report, the inmate private prison population consists of less than 1% of the 125,000 inmate population.
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