Appeals court blocks California ban on for-profit prisons

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.

The first-in-the-nation ban on for-profit private prisons and immigration detention facilities enacted by California on Monday was once more rejected by a larger panel of the 9th U.S. 

The 2019 state law that would have gradually phased out privately managed immigration jails in California by 2028 was overturned by a three-judge appeal panel last year. 

The bill would have compromised a crucial aspect of the country's immigration detention system.

AB 32 would restrict ICE's contractors from operating detention facilities, requiring ICE to alter its approach to incarceration in California or abandon its facilities.

According to the 11-member appellate panel, the "supremacy clause" of the United States Constitution gives the federal government the right to preempt state law. 

The Geo Group Inc., which operates two California sites, sued to invalidate the law. Geo and ICE didn't immediately comment on the decision.

Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen found for the majority of the eight-member court that AB 32 would ban ICE's contractors from operating detention facilities, requiring ICE to adapt its approach to incarceration in California or leave its facilities.

Chief Judge Mary Murguia said the law is valid since it neither controls nor discriminates against the federal government, despite three panellists disagreeing.

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