I’ll have to start this post by revealing an embarrassing secret. You may have noticed that I cover quite a few of Senator Ricardo Lara’s bills. There is no kickback or arrangement involved (though if he wants to be forever in my debt as a background source or just open a tab for me at any nearby brewery, I will take it!), it’s simply this: after I left my gig as a Capitol reporter to go to Peace Corps I unenrolled from pretty much all my press release listservs. The exceptions were those for which I couldn’t figure out how to unenroll. Or those which required a direct email to unenroll. I’m not trying to trash talk Senator Lara’s communications director, I’m sure he would remove me if I asked, but I haven’t. I’m a millennial, unless something is automated and clickable, I can’t deal.
Anyways, that’s the story with Senator Lara’s bills. I also get the Governor’s press releases, but he doesn’t write bills, so here we are.
Anyways, there is a hearing for this bill today, so listen up!
- This one is kind of a package deal in that it is closely related to the measures Lara hopes to take with SB 30 and SB 31. If passed and signed into law, SB 29 would essentially prevent local and state government from paying private contractors to detain undocumented immigrants.
- When I read this bill, I immediately went looking for news coverage to delve into this bill. Sometimes my eyes glaze over reading legal jargon, so if I read something that seems interesting, I usually pause and try to find a reporter who has called the staffers to confirm I’m understanding what I read correctly. There was surprisingly little news coverage of this one, however, so if you’re so inclined, check out the full text. Basically, as of now, it is legal for state and local governments to contract with private entities to detain undocumented immigrants. This bill would make that illegal.
- One factor proponents focus on is the lack of accountability that comes with private detention centers. They don’t face the same rules and regulations as public corrections facilities and aren’t subject to the same level of public scrutiny (in particular, the Public Records Act).
- I’m definitely interested to hear the committee testimony on this one before I make up my mind: how much do private contractors cost compared to state corrections facilities? How often is detention chosen over deportation? What determines whether or not an immigrant will be sent a private facility, or deported, or released, or sent to a state prison? What would this cost the state (often, this excellent non-partisan bureau called the LAO performs such analyses)?
Who to Call
- It’s currently in the Senate Judiciary committee. Call your senator, especially if they sit on that committee!
- I’m probably missing some major source, but this short mention in ABC 10 was all I could find!
An unimportant addendum to this post is just an apology, as I’ve lagged on my promise to post twice a week. I don’t have any excuses. I adopted a dog, so I’m busy with her. Her name is Stella, and she loves running and hates other people, so we are a good match for one another.