On Tuesday, August 18th, the California State Assembly passed SB 1289, also known as the Dignity Not Detention Act, ending the use of private immigration detention facilities. This announcement comes just after The Department of Justice announced the phase out of the use of private of prisons.
Sponsored by Senator Lara (D- Bell Gardens,) the Dignity not Detention Act would prohibit modifying any existing contract to extend it’s length, renewing an existing contract, or entering a new contract with private corporations contractor, or vendor to detain immigrants in civil immigration proceedings for profit. This bill would also require all immigrant detention centers in California to follow federal guidelines for operation as currently, there are no federal guidelines.
The Act passed Assembly in a vote 49-28 and it will now return to the Senate. If passed in the Senate, the Act would require approval of Gov. Jerry Brown.
This Act is extremely important as many detention facilities are terribly mismanaged, resulting in constant human rights violations. Aside from being poorly managed most private facilities profit from the number of inmates housed through the use of bed quotas. Bed quotas require facilities to maintain 34,000 spaces for immigrant detention daily. This quota incentivizes the amount of detainees that are housed at facilities.
While this Act will not end detention or immigrant deportation it will end the incentive to increase the numbers of individuals housed. We all hope that this bill will push authorities to evaluate and consider alternatives to detaining those awaiting deportation.