On January 1, the California Public Records Act went into effect. It holds private immigration detention facilities accountable through open records laws.
This also put a freeze on the expansion of the state’s private prison facilities for immigration detainees.
Private Immigration Prisons Under Fire
California is the first state in the country to apply open documentation laws to the private immigration incarceration facilities after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the new legal provision into law. This was enacted in October 2017 and the legal provision is part of the Dignity Not Detention Act.
The expansion of for-profit immigration detention facilities in the state is equally frozen by the Law. Immigration detention centers owned by private companies are exempt from the public analysis up to this very moment.
It has become very hard for advocates to get hold of important documents, which are supposed to be open to the public. Such papers may include civil and human rights complaints which were filed against the private facilities.
Private Prisons Governing Themselves While Abusing Inmates
A record of abuse and surveillance footage is what the CIVIC was much interested in viewing. This was the alleged incident in June 2017 where a group of guards sprayed pepper spray and beat men who were on hunger strike. Earlier on, the GEO group claimed the video to be their property.
A time has come when the public needs to access everything happening behind closed doors. Adelanto Detention Facility is required to release the footage to the public. There have been several legislative attempts over the years to change the federal law.
Private immigration detention facilities remain off the hook from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other state public record laws. Nevertheless, Sen. Benjamin Cardin in August introduced Senate Bill 1728 for the implementation of private prisons being subjected to FOIA.