Governor Signs Bonta Bill to Hold For-Profit, Private, Detention Centers Accountable for Inhumane Treatment of Californians

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) called today’s signing of AB 3228 by Governor Gavin Newsom a huge victory for human rights that will move California closer to stopping a health and welfare crisis inside ICE’s privately-run detention facilities in California.

“The signing of AB 3228 is a victory for human rights and for justice, and I deeply appreciate Governor Newsom’s partnership and leadership on this issue,” said Bonta, author of AB 3228. “This is California putting our people first.  Our California values make clear that no one is above the law.  For-profit, private detention centers must be held accountable in the face of egregious human rights violations and harm to the health, safety, and welfare of Californians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the horrific recent reports of forced sterilization of female detainees in a private detention center in Georgia further demonstrate the need for greater oversight of these private corporations, whose business model provides for profiting off of human suffering.”

AB 3228 will require all detention facility operators in the state of California meet the minimum standards set forth in their contracts, by providing for a cause of action in state court for any violations of those agreed-upon standards.

“By providing a cause of action for violations at private detention facilities through AB 3228, we are sending a clear message that no one is above the law,” Bonta said.

AB 3228 will empower individuals harmed by for-profit, private corporations who are not meeting the standards established in their contracts to seek justice for the wrongs done to them. By providing a cause of action, California can ensure that these detention facilities uphold basic human rights and standards in the treatment of civil detainees. 

“Especially now during this public health crisis, it is imperative that California takes steps to protect its residents and institute uniform and adequate standards for private detention facilities,” said Bonta. “Over the past several months, we have seen hundreds of cases of individuals held in private detention facilities testing positive for COVID-19. In at least one case, an individual died after being transferred to a local hospital from the Otay Mesa detention facility, which is owned and operated by the for-profit corporation CoreCivic. Media reports have alleged that CoreCivic staff have attempted to force detainees to sign legal waivers before they were provided protective masks. Reports also indicate that CoreCivic staff pepper sprayed detainees who protested these coercive tactics.”

 AB 3228 will ensure compliance and consistency with respect to standards in the facilities that remain open so that detainees, staff and the surrounding communities are not endangered.

“California must do everything it can to protect the human rights of individuals in detention. This includes ensuring that there are real consequences when for profit corporations harm our residents. Our goal remains to end private detention in California, and this bill is another step in that direction.”Jackie Gonzalez the Policy Director for Immigrant Defense Advocates (IDA), and sponsor of AB 3228.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and is the Assistant Majority Leader.