Kemi Bello, ILRC Communications Manager

June 1, 2016                                       

Kemi Bello, kbello [at] ilrc.org, (415) 321-8568

California Senate Passes Historic Dignity Not Detention Act
Bill Would Prohibit Private Companies from Operating Immigration Detention Centers in California

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today the California Senate took an important step towards protecting the thousands of immigrants held in the private detention facilities in the state by passing Senate Bill 1289, also known as the Dignity Not Detention Act. SB 1289 is co-sponsored by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).

Immigration detention in the United States has become a financial market where human lives are treated as profit. Senate Bill 1289 would prohibit local governments from contracting with private companies seeking to operate immigration detention facilities in California. It would also require all other detention facilities in California to uphold the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 2011 Operations Performance-Based National Detention Standards, which are, to date, not codified and therefore not enforceable. This historic bill would be the first of its kind to codify standards of treatment for immigrant detainees, including extra protections for LGBTQ immigrants, and would also be the first to grant immigrants the ability to sue if their rights are violated under the treatment standards.

Currently, private prison companies make billions detaining immigrants for profit, holding 62 percent of detention beds nationwide and the vast majority of detention beds in California. Many of these private contracts have also negotiated local quota provisions to ensure that beds remain filled at any cost, regardless of their destructive effects on communities. In part due to the lack of enforceable standards of treatment, detention centers have been plagued by poor conditions, including inadequate or spoiled food, lack of access to medical care, rampant physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and often-preventable deaths. LGBTQ immigrants are not only subject to the same abuses as other immigrants, but also higher rates of solitary confinement and sexual abuse. Even though California has taken steps to advance LGBTQ rights in other arenas, SB 1289 would provide extra protection for the LGBTQ community in immigration detention.

“The Dignity Not Detention Act, SB 1289, sends a clear message that California stands against the mass incarceration of immigrants and will no longer tolerate substandard care or corporations profiting off of the suffering of immigrant communities,” said Grisel Ruiz, Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Every individual in the state of California, regardless of immigration status, deserves to be treated with basic standards of care and dignity, even while in custody.


About the Immigrant Legal Resource Center

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, law enforcement, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. www.ilrc.org

About Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement

CIVIC is a national nonprofit working to end the isolation and abuse of people in immigration detention through visitation, storytelling, detention monitoring, and other targeted campaigns. www.endisolation.org