California judge issues tentative ruling, largely upholding state ban on private prisons

A California judge on Thursday issued a tentative order that if solidified would uphold the state’s ban on for-profit prisons.

California’s law against private prisons, Assembly Bill 32, took effect on Jan. 1. The legislation prohibits new for-profit detention centers from being built, phasing out the use of private prisons by 2028.

Both the Trump administration and GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison company, have filed lawsuits against the law.

The GEO Group’s complaint argues that the new law is a “transparent attempt by the state to shut down the federal government’s detention efforts within California’s borders,” with the Trump administration making similar claims, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a virtual hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino consolidated the two lawsuits, reportedly describing them as “fascinating and complex.”

During the hearing, Sammartino signaled that she would likely dismiss most of the case against the state, though she would temporarily suspend the law while the cased continued to be heard in court.

She said that she was inclined to believe that Assembly Bill 32 “does not unconstitutionally discriminate against the federal government or its contractors.”

The law affects 10 private prison and immigrant detention facilities in the state — a majority of California’s prison capacity — totaling over 11,000 beds, the LA Times reports. GEO Group manages seven of those facilities.

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