Grassroots Leadership In The News

Feb 27, 2013
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Houston Chronicle

Hundreds of low-risk detainees released from immigration detention

"Obviously, it's very good news from our perspective," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a group that monitors civil rights abuses at the detention centers. "It's obvious that the rationale for detaining all of these people was clearly not justified in the first place if they're now able to release them." Read more about Hundreds of low-risk detainees released from immigration detention

Feb 26, 2013
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The Nation

How Private Prisons Game the Immigration System

On the one hand, a pathway to citizenship and legal reforms sought by advocates could reduce the number of immigrants detained by CCA and its competitors in the private prison industry. “Private prison corporations have an enormous stake in immigration reform,” says Bob Libal, a prison reform advocate with Grassroots Leadership. “A reform that provides a timely pathway to citizenship without further criminalizing migration would be a huge hit to the industry,” he says. Read more about How Private Prisons Game the Immigration System

Feb 26, 2013
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The Texas Observer

Death at Dawson: Why is Texas’s Worst State Jail Still Open?

Yesterday, two advocacy groups, The Sentencing Project and Grassroots Leadership,released a report summarizing the case for closing Dawson—primarily that it could save the state $24 million a year. That’s not counting how much the state could make by selling the property on which Dawson sits, a riverside plot in downtown Dallas that the city has been clamoring to develop for years. Read more about Death at Dawson: Why is Texas’s Worst State Jail Still Open?

Feb 25, 2013
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The Dallas Morning News

Jail opponents, state politicians agree: It’s time to close the Dawson State Jail on the Trinity River in Dallas

Meanwhile the Grassroots Leadership (based out of North Carolina, with offices in Austin) and The Sentencing Project reiterated their call for closing the jail. Last month the coalition said it should be closed for myriad reasons, among them a handful of health-related deaths at the Dawson State Jail in recent years.
“Dawson has a well-documented history of neglect of incarcerated people, in many cases resulting in death,” says Grassroots Leadership’s Kymberlie Quong Charles in a release issued this morning.
“Unfortunately, these problems are common in prisons run for profit by corporations. How many more people will have to die before this facility is closed?” Read more about Jail opponents, state politicians agree: It’s time to close the Dawson State Jail on the Trinity River in Dallas

Feb 25, 2013
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The Dallas Observer

Report: Closure of Dallas' Dawson State Jail Could Save State $24 Million Per Year

Two national groups that signed onto the letter, Grassroots Leadership and The Sentencing Project, released a brief report this morning further detailing the reasons for closure. [...] To underline the points highlighted in the report, Grassroots Leadership will host a vigil outside Dawson on March 7 to call for its closure.

Feb 22, 2013
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The Rolling Stone

The For-Profit Imprisonment Racket

The dangerous intimacy between the immigration and criminal justice systems is fostered by executives with high stakes in the human consequences – people like Venturella, who, according to Grassroots Leadership, took a new job in July as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at the GEO Group, the second highest grossing private prison company in the country. Read more about The For-Profit Imprisonment Racket

Feb 19, 2013
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The New York Times

A Company That Runs Prisons Will Have Its Name on a Stadium

“It’s startling to see a stadium will be named after them,” Libal said. “It’s like calling something Blackwater Stadium. This is a company whose record is marred by human rights abuses, by lawsuits, by unnecessary deaths of people in their custody and a whole series of incidents that really draw into question their ability to successfully manage a prison facility.” Read more about A Company That Runs Prisons Will Have Its Name on a Stadium

Feb 12, 2013
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Huffington Post (originally in CIP Americas)

With Immigration Reform Looming, Private Prisons Lobby to Keep Migrants Behind Bars

Bob Libal, of Grassroots Leadership, which issued a major report on Operation Streamline’s migrant-to-prison pipeline last year, commented on Operation Streamline and related programs, “These are programs where immigrants lose years of their lives and taxpayers lose billions of dollars, but the private prison corporations are counting on these programs to make profits to pay their executives exorbitant salaries and reinvest their money in lobbying efforts.”
He notes that the problem of decoupling immigration reform from enforcement is a political—and economic—one. “There is no legal reason why we can’t fix our immigration system and legalize people who are here without increasing border militarization and criminal penalties.” Read more about With Immigration Reform Looming, Private Prisons Lobby to Keep Migrants Behind Bars

Feb 2, 2013
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Business Insider

Private Prisons Will get Totally Slammed by Immigration Reform

“[Prior to 2005,] typically when someone was apprehended at the border they would be deported or dealt with in the civil immigration system," Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, told Business Insider. "What Streamline did was move those people into the criminal justice system and charged them with one of two crimes." Read more about Private Prisons Will get Totally Slammed by Immigration Reform

Jan 25, 2013
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The Huffington Post

Immigration Reform Must End, Not Expand, Operation Streamline, by executive director Bob Libal

The debate over the proposed "comprehensive immigration reform" bill is intensifying, with a "gang of six" senators attempting to hash out a bill that would regularize the status of some undocumented immigrants but may also include increased funding for harsh border enforcement policies. Read more about Immigration Reform Must End, Not Expand, Operation Streamline, by executive director Bob Libal

Jan 24, 2013
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CBS DFW

Human Rights Groups Call For Closure Of Dawson State Jail

Grassroots Leadership, a national social justice organization, is one of the groups that signed the letter sent to lawmakers.
Executive director Bob Libal says the coalition is asking to close the jail now to save state money and possibly save lives.
“It has become abundantly clear this facility is unsafe for the people who are incarcerated in the facility and there is a growing momentum around the state and the country to close this facility.” Read more about Human Rights Groups Call For Closure Of Dawson State Jail

Dec 12, 2012
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Fort Worth Weekly

Concrete Limbo: Two Texas immigration jails are rated among the worst in the country.

“The place was dismal,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization working to end the private prison industry. “These men are eating, sleeping, living, and going to the bathroom in the same room … with a maximum of one to three hours in a small indoor overcrowded recreation room as their only break.
“The men we talked with said it was the worst detention center they’d ever been in. Polk has no classes, no contact visits, poor food, no privacy, and no legal services,” Libal said. “There is absolutely nothing to do but wait.” Read more about Concrete Limbo: Two Texas immigration jails are rated among the worst in the country.

Dec 2, 2012
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La Voz Houston

Piden a Obama el cierre del centro de detención de inmigrantes de Houston: Un grupo de derechos humanos dice que el trato a algunos indocumentados
detenidos equivale a tortura

En el caso de Houston, la petición se basa en las conclusiones de un grupo de voluntarios de las organizaciones de Austin Grassroots Leadership, que promueve el cierre de las cárceles, prisiones y centros de detención con ánimo de lucro, y de Texans United for Families, que reclama el fin de las detenciones de inmigrantes indocumentados. [...]
El director ejecutivo de Grassroots Leadership, Bob Libal, que entrevistó a algunos de los detenidos en el centro de Houston, dice que “hay un uso preocupante de la segregación” y añade que uno de los entrevistados, con una enfermedad mental, le dijo que le habían puesto en una celda de aislamiento, de dimensiones muy reducidas, en varias ocasiones. Read more about Piden a Obama el cierre del centro de detención de inmigrantes de Houston: Un grupo de derechos humanos dice que el trato a algunos indocumentados
detenidos equivale a tortura

Nov 20, 2012
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Texas Civil Rights Review

Texas Groups Unveil Reports on Conditions of Immigrant Detention: December 8th Protest at Polk County Detention Center to Call for Prison’s Closure

“While immigrants suffer under prolonged detention at Polk County and the Houston Processing Center, private prison corporations are getting rich,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. “It doesn’t have to be this way. ICE should prioritize release of immigrants in community support programs that are far more humane, less costly, and are effective at ensuring immigrants are able to appear at their hearings.” Read more about Texas Groups Unveil Reports on Conditions of Immigrant Detention: December 8th Protest at Polk County Detention Center to Call for Prison’s Closure

Nov 15, 2012
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The Texas Tribune

Immigrant Detention Facilities Inhumane, Study Claims

“Our immigration detention system is in crisis,” Andrea Black, executive director of the network, said at a press conference organized by advocacy group Grassroots Leadership in Austin. Black said the reports detail inadequate medical care and nutrition and inmates being confined in crowded cells for up to 23 hours a day. Read more about Immigrant Detention Facilities Inhumane, Study Claims

Nov 14, 2012
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The Dallas Morning News

Reform needed in immigrant detentions, report says

At Polk County, 280 people signed up to speak to a team led by Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership in Austin. The group spoke to 60. Alleged problems included work programs paying $1 an hour, expensive phone calls that provided few minutes, and the use of solitary confinement and the signing of an English-only document agreeing to it by a man who couldn’t understand the document.
“It is really at a point that ICE can’t maintain a system so large and have it truly be a civil system,” Libal said. Read more about Reform needed in immigrant detentions, report says

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