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Bob Libal to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

The policies of criminally prosecuting migrants have built a shadow detention system on top of our nation’s already vast and troubled system of civil detention...Individuals in our nation’s civil detention system include asylum-seekers, women with children, parents of U.S. citizen children, long-time legal permanent residents, and recently arriving migrants. -Bob Libal

Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director Bob Libal will testify before the U.S. Comission on Civil Rights at the State of Civil Rights in Detention Facilities hearing at 2:30pm (EST). Bob's testimony will include evidence that creating and expanding an unaccountable for-profit detention system ineheretly violates the civil rights of immigrants. There are countless examples of civil rights violations in the vast network of immigrant detention facilities that are mandatorily filled due to the 34,000 bed quota set by Congress in a 2007 appropriations bill. Operation Streamline, as Bob describes in his testimony, has criminalized the act of immigration and is another means to expand the reach of the private prison industry in the federal prison system. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is unable to maintain enough facilities, so it contracts with private prison corporations—namely Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group—which have a vested interest in maintaining and expanding detention for immigrants because it provides them with a wider income stream.<--break->

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Is CCA running prisons or fraternities?

For many who are incarcerated and detained, visitation is a lifeline to the community that awaits them in the free world.  The ability to see visitors, which is highly regulated in most carceral facilities, is so powerful that it is generally utilized as a tool to incentivize “good” behavior and compliance with the rules and the culture of prison.  Making visits to prisons, jails and detention centers can be arduous for family and friends who often travel long distances, draw on financial resources, and wait in long lines to connect with the people that they love and care about.  Peoples’ commitment to make these visits is an important public service for helping to ensure community ties and support networks when prisoners are released; factors well-known to have positive impacts on recidivism rates.     

We are appalled to learn of CCA’s recent humiliation of a female visitor, a regular, to one of their Tennessee facilities where she was forced by guards to expose her genitals to prove that she was menstruating.  According to a federal lawsuit filed this week, despite already being cleared through one security checkpoint and offering to relinquish the sanitary napkin that prompted the scrutiny, she was not free to leave the facility without being searched.

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Texas Prison Bid'ness:The GEO Group acquires LCS Corrections, expanding their reach in Texas

The GEO Group is set to acquire a smaller corrections corporation, LCS Corrections. The merger could cost GEO up to $350 million dollars—borrowed from their $700 million revolving line of credit—and will add eight new facilities, and 6,500 new beds to GEO’s existing 79,000 bed capacity.

GEO is looking forward to an estimated $75-80 million extra in annual revenue. On LCS's end, the deal will bail them out of nearly $302 million in debt. The deal will reportedly be finalized by the end of this February.  Read more about The GEO Group acquires LCS Corrections, expanding their reach in Texas

Texas Prison Bid'ness:Former Texas private prison warden arrested in bribery scandal

The former warden of the privately operated East Hidalgo Detention Center, Elberto E. Bravo, was arrested last Friday in a complex bribery scandal. According to local reports, Bravo participated in a scheme to bribe former Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Melo Ochoa to lower the bond for a Mexican drug trafficker, Luis Martinez-Gallegos . 

Private prison operator LCS Corrections removed Bravo from his post as warden in February 2012 amid a federal investigation, but it is unclear if it is related to this case. 

The complex case began when Martinez-Gallegos was stopped by Hidalgo County law enforcement officers and arrested for possession of 89 kilograms of cocaine in his vehicle.  Read more about Former Texas private prison warden arrested in bribery scandal

Texas Prison Bid'ness:Welcoming new Texas Prison Bidness blogger Holly Kirby

Holly KirbyHolly KirbyTexas Prison Bid'ness is happy to welcome new blogger Holly Kirby to our line-up. Holly is the Criminal Justice Organizer at Grassroots Leadership, one of the sponsors of Texas Prison Bid'ness.
Holly Kirby is a criminal justice organizer with Grassroots Leadership. Originally from Jacksonville, Arkansas, Holly graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2009 with a B.A. in Sociology and minor in Cultural Anthropology. In 2011, she moved to Austin to pursue a Masters of Science in Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. Through the school of social work, Holly landed an internship with Grassroots Leadership and was hired as a full-time organizer shortly after she graduated. As the coordinator of the Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign, she has authored two major reports examining the interstate transfer of state prisoners to private, for-profit prisons and supports state advocates to prevent and end this practice, fight for sustainable solutions to over-incarceration, and bring prisoners home.
Holly’s work and writing on this issue have been featured in Al Jazeera America, Salon.com, The Week, Business Insider, and Truthout.