As Man Dies in ICE Custody, California Moves to Ban For-Profit Prisons, Including Immigrant Jails

A Cameroonian immigrant died this week in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California. The man, identified as 37-year-old Nebane Abienwi, died on Tuesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage. This comes as California lawmakers passed a bill last month that would ban private prisons statewide, a major blow to the for-profit prison industry in the U.S. that is deeply entangled in immigration detention. The legislation also orders the closure of four ICE prisons that can jail up to 4,500 immigrants. The bill is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, who said in his January inaugural address that California should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.” Incarceration at for-profit prisons in California peaked at about 7,000 prisoners in 2016, but state officials have been shifting prisoners to publicly run prisons in recent years. Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration attorney with the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, joins us for a conversation about the bill and immigrant detention in California.

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