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9th Circuit to reconsider California private prison ban 

 April 3, 2022

An appeals court has overturned an earlier ruling requiring California to exempt federal immigration detention facilities from banning for-profit prisons, deciding this week that the matter would be reconsidered by a larger panel of judges.

A team of three judges from the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals had judged 2-1 in October that the state ban should not apply to immigration centers.

In the split decision, a majority agreed with The GEO Group, a prison administrator, and the federal government that state law was blocking federal immigration policy. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not operate any of its own detention centers in California as it does in other parts of the country, relying solely on private facilities.

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Judge Mary Murguia disagreed, citing state police powers that include regulations affecting health and safety. The law, AB 32, targeted reports of substandard conditions and health and safety concerns in for-profit prisons.

The commission’s decision had overturned an earlier ruling by a San Diego District Court, which had ratified the ban in relation to immigrant detention centers.

Attorney General Rob Boda called for the case to be reconsidered by a panel of 11 judges. A majority of the non-excluded, active judges of the 9th Circuit voted for a re-run, Murguia, who is now the chief judge, said in a statement Tuesday.

The hearing will take place in Pasadena on the week of June 21st on a day that has not yet been scheduled.

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There is an immigration detention center in San Diego, but it is run by another private company, CoreCivic. The GEO Group manages a jail in downtown San Diego that generally houses pre-trial defendants charged with federal crimes.

This facility, the West District Detention Center, is located on the outskirts under a separate executive order from President Joe Biden to phase out the use of such prisons. But the facility was given a six-month extension in September, apparently to explore a settlement of a formal contract with a small town in Kern County, which would then outsource subcontracting to GEO.

It was not immediately clear where the negotiations for this agreement were. The facility has been allowed to remain open for another 90 days, according to report from inewsource.

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GEO Group did not respond to a request for further information Wednesday.

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