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US California faces federal lawsuit over its private prison ban

00:45  26 january  2020
00:45  26 january  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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DOJ Files Lawsuit Claiming California Law Banning Private Prisons Is Unconstitutional. The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday filed a lawsuit against the state of California claiming its new law banning the operation of all privately -owned prisons within the state is unconstitutional and

Bill removes profit motive from incarceration and marks latest clash in state’s battle with Trump over treatment of immigrants.

The U.S. Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against the state of California for banning private prisons, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

a bird perched on top of a metal fence: Prison fence© Getty Images Prison fence

The lawsuit argues that though California can choose not to contract private prisons in the state, they cannot stop the federal government from operating private prisons.

"California, of course, is free to decide that it will no longer use private detention facilities for its state prisoners and detainees," the lawsuit reportedly said. "But it cannot dictate that choice for the federal government, especially in a manner that discriminates against the federal government and those with whom it contracts."

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A private prison firm that just won multibillion-dollar contracts to run federal immigration detention centers in California sued the state on Monday, claiming that a AB 32 bars renewal of contracts with operators of private prisons . It also bars the use of private immigration detention facilities in the state.

However, the private prison population reached its peak in 2012 with 137,220 people. Declines in private prisons ’ use make these latest overall population numbers the lowest since 2006 when the population was 113,791. States show significant variation in their use of private correctional facilities.

The bill in question, Assembly Bill 32, took effect Jan. 1 and prohibits new private detention contracts in California, changes to current contracts and plans to phase out existing facilities entirely by 2028.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and proponents of the bill argue that private prisons - which are widely used in the U.S. justice and immigration system - incentivises contractors to incarcerate or detain citizens or migrants.

The complaint reportedly says the law would require the federal government to transport detainees out of California, which would cost resources and impede agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from their "mission to enforce the immigration laws."

Last month, corrections corporation GEO Group filed a similar lawsuit against AB 32. The Florida-based company operates and manages prisons and immigrant detention facilities along the U.S./Mexico border.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

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