Grassroots Leadership In The News

Jan 22, 2015
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Reason

No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence

 

"Headlines screamed of a "border crisis" as unaccompanied minors began arriving in record numbers in the summer of 2014, sparking protests in border towns like Murrieta, CA from citizens who wanted the newly arrived immigrants sent back to where they came from. The administration's response was to request $879 million from Congress to detain and deport. Congress denied the funds, but Homeland Security forged ahead with the construction of several new "family detention centers" anyway. The number of beds grew from fewer than 100 to more than 1,000 in less than a year. And a newly constructed center in Dilley, TX will have a capacity of more than 2,000.

Watch the Reason TV piece for a glimpse at who exactly is being held in these detention centers at record rates." Read more about No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence

Jan 13, 2015
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The Texas Observer

Five Issues to Watch as the Show Unfolds at the 84th Legislature

Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker speculates about the type of legislation immigrant rights groups are going to be fighting during the 84th Texas legislative session. 

“The general consensus among immigrant rights groups and advocates is that we’re going to see sanctuary city bills [allowing police to ask for immigration status] and legislation doing away with in-state tuition for undocumented students, among other things. I think both chambers are going to be rough.” Read more about Five Issues to Watch as the Show Unfolds at the 84th Legislature

Dec 19, 2014
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WFAA

Deal in discussion to privatize Terrell State Hospital

"The winning bidder is Correct Care Recovery Solutions. It is a subsidiary of a larger company which provides health care in jail and prison settings.

Bob Libal is an opponent of privatizing state hospitals. He is the executive director of Grassroots Leadership.

"We don't believe that a private prison corporations should be running state hospitals," Libal said." Read more about Deal in discussion to privatize Terrell State Hospital

Dec 18, 2014
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WBAI 99.5 FM

Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas

Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker tells WBAI host Donald Anthonyson about the new privately-run family detention center in Dilley, Texas and abuses coming out of the Karnes County Residential Center, a GEO-run detention center that began detaining families this summer. Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield of CIVIC talk about their work establishing immigrant vistitation programs, the injustices of the legal system immigrants must navigate, and influences of private prison lobbying on mass immigrant detention. Interview begins at minute 13:00. Read more about Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas

Dec 12, 2014
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San Antonio Express-News

A spending bill in Congress threatens South Texas immigrant detention center

The facility in Dilley, a converted “man camp” for oil workers, will replace a temporary government holding center in Artesia, New Mexico. Critics say it is both inhumane and unnecessary, given the dramatic slowdown in border crossings in recent months.

“The whole return of mass detention for little kids and their mothers is pretty appalling,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that opposes for-profit prisons.

Libal noted that the Corrections Corp. of America ran a similar facility near Austin that encountered lawsuits.

Several Texas lawmakers, including Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio and Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, have raised questions about the cost-effectiveness and transparency of the procurement process.

Dec 10, 2014
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The Commons Online

Prison-reform activists seek return of inmates Vermont, national grassroots organizations partner to bring prisoners closer to home

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform and Grassroots Leadership, a national nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, is partnering on “Locked Up & Shipped Away,” a campaign that aims to halt the state’s practice of shipping prisoners out of state.

Grassroots Leadership released its report “Locked Up & Shipped Away: Paying the Price for Vermont’s Response to Prison Overcrowding,” on Dec. 3 at a press conference at the Marlboro College Graduate Center. Read more about Prison-reform activists seek return of inmates Vermont, national grassroots organizations partner to bring prisoners closer to home

Dec 3, 2014
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WPTZ.com

Families, groups speak out against state’s inmate transfer practice: Report released on housing inmates out-of-state

The national social justice group Grassroots Leadership released a report Wednesday at the Statehouse looking at Vermont's history of sending inmates to private prisons in other states in response to prison overcrowding.

The report says an over-reliance on out-of-state private prisons cuts ties between prisoners and families, which are critical to keeping inmates from reoffending. It also says shipping inmates out-of-state is costly to families, emotionally and financially.

Dec 3, 2014
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Brattleboro Reformer

Report targets Vermont’s “shipped away” inmates. Band-Aid Impact: Severs critical supportive ties and leads to difficulty reintegrating into the community

The press conference was called by two groups — Grassroots Leadership and Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, to highlight a report titled "Locked Up and Shipped Away: Paying the Price for Vermont's Response to Prison Overcrowding." The document, which is a follow-up to a 2013 report and is available at grassrootsleadership.org, says there are nearly 500 male inmates from Vermont "being warehoused" in for-profit prisons. Most are in Kentucky, though a small number are housed in Arizona.

"The message remains the same: This policy is a costly Band-Aid for a problem that needs real, systemic, sustainable change," said Holly Kirby of Grassroots Leadership. "Shipping prisoners far from home punishes families and children, emotionally and financially. It severs critical supportive ties between prisoners and loved ones, shown to contribute to better outcomes once released — something that should concern all Vermonters." Read more about Report targets Vermont’s “shipped away” inmates. Band-Aid Impact: Severs critical supportive ties and leads to difficulty reintegrating into the community

Dec 3, 2014
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VTDigger

Advocates Identify Ways to Reduce Vermont’s Prison Population

VCJR is drafting a bill to reduce inmate populations, in hopes of getting a lawmaker to sponsor it. The group also released a study produced with Texas-based national group Grassroots Leadership, which is pushing for the end of private prisons across the country.

The study focuses on Vermont’s out-of-state prison population and advocates for an end to the practice. “This policy is a costly Band-Aid,” said Holly Kirby, who produced the study. Read more about Advocates Identify Ways to Reduce Vermont’s Prison Population

Dec 3, 2014
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The Barre Montpelier Times Argus

Report urges bringing Vt. prisoners home

A new report recommends taking steps to bring home Vermont’s out-of-state prison population. Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based group that advocates the end of for-profit prisons, released a study Wednesday calling for reforms to sentencing and supervision policies, expansion of drug and mental health treatment and a greater focus on transitional housing.

Dec 3, 2014
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Valley News

Report released on housing inmates out-of-state

Criminal justice reform advocates and family members of inmates urged Vermont on Wednesday to stop sending inmates out-of-state to for-profit prisons.

Grassroots Leadership, a social justice group, released a report at the Statehouse press conference on the costs and consequences of sending inmates to private prisons in other states in response to prison overcrowding. Read more about Report released on housing inmates out-of-state

Dec 3, 2014
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Burlington Free Press

Report: Out-of-state inmates risk re-offense

Grassroots Leadership, a social justice group, released a report at the Statehouse press conference on the costs and consequences of sending inmates to private prisons in other states in response to prison overcrowding.

The report— "Locked Up & Shipped Away: Paying the Price for Vermont's Response to Prison Overcrowding" — says an over-reliance on out-of-state private prisons cuts ties between prisoners and families, which are critical to keeping inmates from reoffending. It also says shipping inmates out-of-state is costly to families, emotionally and financially. A little less than 500 Vermont inmates are currently incarcerated out of state, mostly in Kentucky. Read more about Report: Out-of-state inmates risk re-offense

Dec 3, 2014
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Fort Worth Star Telegram (blog)

Private companies should not run our state hospitals

BY ESHE COLE - SPECIAL TO THE STAR-TELEGRAM

"Private prison companies such as GEO Group, Correctional Corporations of America (CCA) and a conglomerate of new corporations are attempting to take over state hospitals in Texas.

This seems like a risk that Texas should not be willing to take."

ESHE COLE IS MENTAL HEALTH AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROGRAM COORDINATOR FOR AUSTIN-BASED GRASSROOTS LEADERSHIP. ECOLE@GRASSROOTSLEADERSHIP.ORG Read more about Private companies should not run our state hospitals

Nov 28, 2014
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Austin Chronicle

The End of S-Comm? Presidential order protects millions, Limits ICE detainers

"Local immigrant advocates applauded last week's executive order by President Barack Obama shielding millions from immediate deportation – particularly given the action's potential to dismantle the Secure Com­mun­ities program that's already banished thousands of people from Travis County.

Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator forGrassroots Leadership, shared in the elation. She joined a group of some 30 demonstrators in front of the Cap­itol the day after the announcement in calling for even broader protections. 'S-Comm creates community distrust,' she said, quoting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. 'That's what we've been saying all along! We feel vindicated.'" Read more about The End of S-Comm? Presidential order protects millions, Limits ICE detainers

Nov 26, 2014
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Dallas Observer

Captive Audience: Counties and Private Businesses Cash in on Video Visits at Jails

Curious about how the limited human contact affects inmate behavior, he began filing open records requests once he got out of jail. Using data provided by Travis County, Renaud found that inmate infractions climbed from 820 in May 2012 to 1,160 in April 2014, and the facility went from averaging 940 infractions per month to 1,087 per month in that same period. Contraband into the facility increased 54 percent, the data showed, and inmate-on-inmate assaults increased 20 percent. Renaud published his work in an October report sponsored by Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based prison rights group. Most troubling for jail workers, Renaud's report found, inmate-on-staff assaults in Travis County jumped from three to six in the month immediately after the change, and have gradually increased since, topping out at eight in April 2014. Read more about Captive Audience: Counties and Private Businesses Cash in on Video Visits at Jails

Nov 25, 2014
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Austin-American Statesman

Commentary: Closing state jails should be on Legislature’s agenda

Jailing at the rates that Texas does has had devastating social and economic effects for those incarcerated, who are disproportionately poor people of color, and their communities. But our addiction to incarceration affects us all. Texas taxpayers foot the bill at a cost of nearly $3 billion annually spent on state jails and prisons, money that could otherwise be invested in education and other front-end programs that give people opportunities to avoid interaction with the criminal justice system. Read more about Commentary: Closing state jails should be on Legislature’s agenda

Nov 24, 2014
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The Austin Chronicle

Private Prisons Seek Broader Markets. Latest corporate wrinkle: "Treatment Industrial Complex"

A new report finds that prison corporations, stymied by prison reform, are seeking new markets for human product lines – if you can't jail ’em, find another way to make ’em pay.

The “Treatment Industrial Complex has the potential to ensnare more individuals, under increased levels of supervision and surveillance, for increasing lengths of time – in some cases, for the rest of a person’s life.” A report released last week by the American Friends Service Committee, Grassroots Leadership, and the Southern Center for Human Rights coins the term “Treatment Industrial Complex” to describe the latest spinoff of the prison privatization business – aka the Prison Industrial Complex. The emerging “Treatment” complex, declares the report, are those “for-profit prison corporations … adapting to historic reductions in prison populations by seeking out new markets previously served by non-profit behavioral health and treatment-oriented agencies.” Read more about Private Prisons Seek Broader Markets. Latest corporate wrinkle: "Treatment Industrial Complex"

Nov 24, 2014
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The Scanner Newspaper

For-Profit Prison Companies Foster 'Treatment Industrial Complex'

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – As cash-strapped state and local governments shift resources from incarceration to treatment for individuals convicted of low-level drug crimes, for-profit prison companies are following the money and potentially “undermining efforts to treat and rehabilitate prisoners,” according to a new report.

The report published by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Grassroots Leadership, and the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), groups that advocate for criminal justice reform and human rights, found that the “emerging ‘Treatment Industrial Complex’ has the potential to ensnare more individuals, under increased levels of supervision and surveillance, for increasing lengths of time—in some cases, for the rest of a person’s life.” Read more about For-Profit Prison Companies Foster 'Treatment Industrial Complex'

Nov 21, 2014
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Truth-Out.org

Community Corrections: Profiteering, Corruption and Widening the Net

"Smoke and Mirrors is a new series that dives into the details of "bipartisan prison reform" to reveal the right-wing, neoliberal carceral sleight of hand that's really at work. It asks hard questions about the content and consequences of various proposals and explores ways in which commitments to unregulated free markets, privatization and states' rights drive the agenda for a new generation of reforms that will reinforce structural racism, intensify economic violence and contribute to the normalization of a surveillance society. Just as this week's Smoke & Mirrors article was going to press, an essential new resource was announced:"The Treatment Industrial Complex: How For-Profit Prison Corporations are Undermining Efforts to Treat andRehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Gain," is a groundbreaking report that exposes the ways in which for-profit prison corporations are adapting to historic reductions in prison populations by seeking out new markets previously served by non-profit behavioral health and treatment-oriented agencies. The report highlights the expansion of the incarceration industry away from warehousing people and into areas that traditionally were focused on treatment and care of individuals involved in the criminal justice system -prison medical care, forensic mental hospitals, civil commitment centers, and 'community corrections' programs such as halfway houses and home arrest." Read more about Community Corrections: Profiteering, Corruption and Widening the Net

Nov 21, 2014
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Business Insider

For-Profit Prison Companies Have A Worrying Plan For Boosting Profits

For-profit prison companies are exploiting "new markets" to compensate for the recent decrease in America's prison population, according to the report released by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

Psychiatric facilities in particular could bring in major cash for private prison companies. These state facilities typically include a number of "forensic" cases, meaning patients ended up in a psych facility because they committed a crime.

For-profit prison operators also stand to gain from a type of confinement known as civil commitment, which confines sex offenders after their prison sentences if they're likely to abuse somebody again.

Both of these prison alternatives could be more lucrative for for-profit prison companies than running an actual prison. From the report:

Unlike prisons, from which over 90% of those incarcerated are eventually released, mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers represent the potential for lifetime confinement, which spells long-term, guaranteed profits for private corporations.

While there's definitely a need for forensic psych units, it can be problematic if they're run by for-profit companies.

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