Los Angeles, CA, April 1, 2016 – Today State Senator Ricardo Lara, together with co-sponsors the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), announced the groundbreaking Dignity Not Detention Act. The first bill of its kind, SB 1289 would stop city and county actors from being complicit in detaining immigrants for profit through the creation and renewal of contracts with prison corporations.
Currently, private prison companies make billions by detaining immigrants, holding 62 percent of detention beds nationwide and the vast majority of those in California. Many of these contracts have even negotiated local quotas to keep these beds filled at any cost. This bill is an important step in fighting the privatization of mass incarceration and putting an end to a system that incentivizes the detention and warehousing of immigrants over respect for their basic human rights.
SB 1289 would also ensure that remaining facilities are required to treat detainees using basic standards of care by ensuring that the national immigration detention standards are binding law in California as opposed to mere guidelines which are routinely violated. Owing in part to the failure to adhere to enforceable national standards, immigration detention centers have been plagued by poor conditions, including poor access to medical care, and physical and sexual abuse.
Private prisons are particularly troubling because they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and operate with little to no oversight. SB 1289 would make California the first state in the nation to create a right to humane treatment in immigration detention, and would include additional safeguards for the LGBTQ community by guarding against the abusive use of solitary confinement. Importantly, the bill would allow people to sue if their rights are violated under the standards.
“SB 1289 sends a strong message that California stands against mass incarceration while standing with its immigrant communities”, said Grisel Ruiz, Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Just last year, the state of California stepped up in a major way to protect the immigrant community by enacting the “Immigrants Shape California” legislative package, and we cannot now sit back and ignore an abusive system that profits off of immigrants. This bill is an important first step toward ending this exploitative practice, and it will ensure that detained immigrants have the right to humane care - a fundamental human right.”
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a non-profit national resource center that provides legal trainings, educational materials, and advocacy to advance immigrant rights. Founded in 1979, the mission of the ILRC is to work with and educate immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. www.ilrc.org
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