Grassroots Leadership Blog

A YAV year in review

When I walked into my first day of work at Grassroots Leadership, Cristina had been there for at least an hour already working on the call-in campaign to get Sara and Nayely released from Karnes. She quickly explained to me what was going on and asked me to jump in where I felt comfortable. Just over a month later, we had planned the rally at Karnes and released the report on family detention. Even today, my last day, I feel like there is much to do and that this work will never be done. Read more »

Court rules family detention illegal!

On Friday night, Judge Dolly Gee released the long-awaited decision in the case against family detention. She ruled that the Administration’s family detention policy violates the terms of the Flores settlement, which lays out minimum conditions for children held in federal immigration custody. Watch a quick video here by AILA attorneys with the main points of the decision and what happens next.

In the decision, Judge Gee excoriates the government's reasoning for maintaining family detention in phrases that display the same outrage felt by immigrant advocates. "It is astonishing that Defendants [ICE] have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be compliant with an Agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years or effective at achieving what Defendants hoped it would accomplish," Gee wrote.

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Securus Myth Vs. Fact Analysis Part 3

In this series, we are examining the latest in public relations and marketing tactics from Securus Technologies, which details their version of myths and facts surrounding their video visitation product. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 here. Lets take a look at what they have to say about quality and profit.

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Grassroots Leadership stands with Arizonans calling for an end to for-profit imprisonment

Earlier this month, prisoners incarcerated by the Arizona Department of Corrections at a for-profit private prison in Kingman, Arizona rioted and destroyed much of the facility. The recent unrest and violence at the Kingman prison should come as no surprise to any of us.  In fact, we should have anticipated it.  Under the management of MTC, a private for-profit prison corporation based in Utah, Kingman has been the site of other unconscionable and high-level disturbances, including the escape of three people who were later tied to the murder of a couple in New Mexico.  

The following are remarks by Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director Bob Libal at a July 20th press conference at the Arizona House of Representatives:

I'm very happy to be here this morning with advocates, legislators, and members of the faith community calling for Arizona to implement policies that reduce reliance on mass for-profit incarceration. 

Arizona's struggles with for-profit prisons are not unique.  Private prisons are well-documented for cutting corners in staffing levels, staff training and staff benefits, all which lead to notably higher staff turnover rates in private prisons than in publicly run prisons.  Of course, violence, disruptions, and staff incompetency is found in publicly run prisons, too.  The difference is that, as publicly run entities, they can and should be held to account by the public.  But when taxpayer dollars are used to outsource the management of prisons, we actually relinquish the right to holding these companies accountable.  That, too, is unconscionable. States across the country have seen the kind of incidents that Arizona has saw at the Kingman facility over the past several years.  In Texas, conditions at the Willacy County Correctional Center - also operated by Management and Training Corporation, the same private prison company - deteriorated and poorly trained prison leadership reacted so badly that immigrant prisoners rioted and destroyed the facility.  Read more »

OITNB visitation room vs. reality: #PrisonSkype

At Litchfield, Piper and the women with whom she is incarcerated receive many visitors throughout the Orange is the New Black (OITNB) series.  Some people visit with friends and family, including their children, and others receive visits from charitable organizations, pen pals, and sometimes even strangers.  What’s common about all of the visits portrayed in the show are that they happen in a room where the women  and their visitors sit across from one another at tables with nothing in between them.  In prison policy speak this is referred to as “a contact visit.”  Although the degree of permissible contact is limited, which we see as Litchfield’s correctional officers intervene when (in their judgement) a boundary has been crossed, the women and their visitors experience an interaction on par with that of two people sitting across a kitchen table.  

Securus Myth Vs. Fact Analysis Part 2

In this series we are examining the latest in public relations and marketing tactics from Securus Technologies, which details their version of myths and facts surrounding their video visitation product from their perspective. In the last installment we looked at their cost analysis of remote video visitation compared to traveling to the facility and our analysis showed that either way, families pay. In this installment we look at their next two statements: Read more »

Humpday Hall of Shame | Harris Co. sends 100 to privately-run jail

When we’re writing about prisoner transfer to privately operated facilities, we’re usually talking about state prisons.  However, Harris County, TX made headlines this week with Sheriff Ron Hickman’s decision to move prisoners out of the county jail to the Jefferson County jail, run by for-profit private prison company LaSalle Corrections.  Hickman cites overcrowding as rationale for outsourcing roughly 100 post-trial inmates from Houston to Beaumont.  
 
The maneuver may have gone unnoticed had it not been for the public critique of Houston-area state senator John Whitmire who also chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.  In his letter to the Sheriff, Senator Whitmire takes issue with the decision both on the grounds that there are empty beds in Harris County jail facilities, and that local stakeholders were not given an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.  Sound familiar?

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