East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta wants California to cease doing business with for-profit private prisons. Bonta introduced legislation Thursday that would prevent the renewal of state contracts with private prison operators by 2018.

In a terse set of statements, Bonta said for-profit prison’s business model is not predicated on rehabilitating inmates. “The built-in incentives are all wrong. A private for-profit company that’s traded on Wall Street inherently will try to maximize profits and minimize costs through warehousing our inmates. They have a duty to shareholders, not to California.”

Assemblymember Rob Bonta

More than 9,000 state inmates are currently housed in 10 for-profit prisons, including tow out-of-state in Arizona and Mississippi, said Bonta. Assembly Bill 1320 would also phase out state prisoners from all for-profit facilities by 2028.

“Defenders of for-profit private prisons will say they are cost effective. So is child labor, but it’s still wrong. In California, we put our money where our values are, even if it may cost a little more,” said Bonta.

Due to the state’s overcrowding of prisons, the for-profit industry has flourished in California, while other states and the federal government discontinue its use.

The state prison lobby in California, however, is highly formidable and will certainly push hard against Bonta’s AB 1320. Bonta’s office expects a hearing on the bill in the Assembly Public Safety Committee possibly in April, at the earliest.