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Texas Prison Bid'ness:"No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention" premiered in Austin

The newest film by Austin-based filmmaker Matthew Gossage about family detention, "No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention" premiered to an audience of over 80 people in Austin, TX last Friday.

The film, a short documentary running about 30 minutes, gives a brief history of family detention and the coalition that brought it to an end at the T. Don Hutto family detention center. It also follows a mother, Sara, who together with her 7-year-old daughter was detained in the newly opened Karnes Family Detention Center. Sara and her daughter, Nayely, won freedom from Karnes after their lawyer took their story to Grassroots Leadership and the media. Nayely has brain cancer and was not receiving medical inside the Karnes County family detention center, which is operated by the GEO Group.

The film is available for advocacy and organizing groups around the country who want to learn more about family detention and what they can do to bring this practice to an end, once and for all.

Watch the trailer below. If you would like to show the film in your commnunity, email tuff@grassrootsleadership.org

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Texas Prison Bid'ness:Sexual abuse lawsuit in Fannin County against Community Education Center, County

Fannin County JailFannin County JailSexual assaults in the Fannin County Jail have spawned a lawsuit by two women against the county, private prison corporation Community Education Centers (CEC), and individual officials at the facility.  

The lawsuit alleges CEC, the county and facility officials are liable for assaults committed by former Fannin County Sheriff's deputy William Clifford Isaacs. Issacs sexually assualted at least four women who were being transferred from the Fannin County Jail. The jail is operated by the private prison corporation Community Education Centers.  Isaacs was convicted for the sexual assaults of four federal felonies and is awaiting sentencing.  The suit alleges that:

"In addition to those reasons stated above, Defendant CEC negligently failed to protect [her], and other female inmates, from the unwanted assault by Defendant Isaacs despite the knowledge of previous sexual assaults by guards on inmates and common national jail standards of requiring at least two officers during any transport of inmates for officer safety. Additionally, CEC’s policies in the Fannin County Jail allow female inmates to be exclusively supervised by male guards, having had only one female guard on staff at a given time, if any." Read more about Sexual abuse lawsuit in Fannin County against Community Education Center, County

Texas Prison Bid'ness:The quick and dirty way CCA won the Dilley family detention contract

Photo from NPRPhoto from NPRImmigrant rights advocates and conservative U.S. congressmen alike were shocked and concerned about the speed with which the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) won and began to implement the contract for the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, TX.

The center, created in an existing "man camp" for oil field workers, is set to hold 2,400 people and is rumored to be opening in the early weeks of December. Plans for the facility were announced in September.

The unusual contract involves a lease agreement between real estate group Koontz McCombs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), CCA, and the town of Eloy, AZ, which is nearly 1,000 miles away.  Read more about The quick and dirty way CCA won the Dilley family detention contract

Texas Prison Bid'ness:Advocates protest UT alumnus Red McCombs' involvement in Dilley family detention center

UT Alumna Deborah Alemu; Image from the Daily Texan

Red McCombs, a well known alumnus of the University of Texas, is half of the partnership that makes up Koontz McCombs — the real estate group contracting the land with the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for the new family detention camp in Dilley, TX.

The ominously named South Texas Family Detention Center will be able to hold 2,400 people, making it the largest immigrant detention center in the country and putting it on par with the internment camps built for Japanese families during World War II.

On Monday, November 17th, students, alumni, and other advocates gathered at UT's McCombs School of Business (named after McCombs in recognition of his financial support of the school) to petition Thomas Gilligan, dean of the school, to urge McCombs to reconsider the deal with CCA. 

According to some sources, Dean Gilligan agrees that the practice of detaining families is unjust. It's up to McCombs to determine the next move. Read more about Advocates protest UT alumnus Red McCombs' involvement in Dilley family detention center

Humpday Hall of Shame: Vermont paper misses the mark on out-of-state prisoner transfers

The Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign is in full force in Vermont, with our friends Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform leading the fight to bring approximately 500 men home from out-of-state private, for-profit prisons. More than a decade ago, Vermont prisoners were shipped away as a tactic, or "temporary solution" to alleviate prison overcrowding, yet little has been done to resolve this crisis. Vermont prisoners remain a steady revenue stream for Corrections Corporation of America, filling their prison beds in Kentucky and Arizona. Now, we are proud to stand with Vermonters and affected families who are bravely speaking out to put an end to this. 

That is why today's Humpday Hall of Shame belongs to the Caledonian Record, a rural Vermont paper whose editors have chosen to attack and intimidate the individuals who are fighting for the return of their loved one from out-of-state private prison. In an editorial comment titled, Keep Away, the authors attempt to shame two women who have spoken out about the pain and struggle they experience having their sons shipped away by calling them "sobbing moms" and exposing details from the two men's court cases. They wrote, "Ship 'em all to Kentucky, we say. Or Siberia for all we care." 

The Caledonian Record completely misses the mark.  The paper can choose to spew hate and attack vulnerable women who are speaking up for their loved ones and for better criminal justice practices.  But, that doesn't solve the problem for Vermonters whose loved ones are locked up out-of-state or for all Vermonters whose best interests include maintaining community ties for incarcerated people who eventually return home and in lowering prison populations and prison spending. At Grassroots Leadership, we stand in solidarity with prisoners and their families and all Vermonters fighting for safe and sane criminal justice policy, one that benefits communities and not private prison corporation bottom lines.  

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