Grassroots Leadership In The News

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.

Nov 21, 2014
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Vice

Why Are Minorities Overrepresented in Private Prisons?

But private prisons often contractually exempt th​emselves from the financial burdens of medically expensive—which is to say older—inmates. It should come as no surprise, then, that according to the study, the "states in which the private versus public racial disparities are the most pronounced also happen to be the states in which the private versus-public age disparities are most salient."

"Race is basically a proxy for health, and therefore age," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a criminal justice advocacy group opposed to the for-profit prison industry. "Private prisons pluck healthy folks and send people who are less healthy and therefore more expensive to incarcerate back to the public system."  Read more about Why Are Minorities Overrepresented in Private Prisons?

Nov 21, 2014
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The Texas Observer

Obama’s Immigration Reform: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A Priority Enforcement Program, aka PEP, replaces the controversial Secure Communities program—which encouraged local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law. It looks like under PEP, ICE detainers will be replaced by a notfication system among other things.

Cristina Parker, spokesperson for the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, which helped lead the charge in Texas against the unpopular Secure Communities program, says that her organization and others who have fought against the program for years are celebrating its demise. S-COMM was the reason that many immigrants were deported for minor misdemeanors or traffic infractions.

Parker says they are pessimistic, however, about the new program and eagerly awaiting more details on how it will be implemented. “ICE doesn’t inspire confidence in how it follows directives. It’s a rogue agency. And this really sounds very similar to the first day of S-COMM,” she says. “That’s kind of where we’re at now but we’re trying to be cautiously optimistic.” Read more about Obama’s Immigration Reform: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Nov 19, 2014
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Arizona Daily Star

Report takes aim at 'treatment industrial complex'

A new study purports to show the expansion of private-prison firms into areas of medical and other treatment for incarcerated people.

The American Friends Service Committee, Grassroots Leadership and Southern Center for Human Rights released the report Tuesday titled "Treatment Industrial Complex: How for-profit Corporations are Undermining Efforts to Treat and Rehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Gain."

The report says many of the companies traditionally involved in operating for-profit prisons have begun to "profit from providing treatment-oriented programs and services."

The report says companies involved in the so-called "treatment industrial complex" have capitalized on state and federal efforts seeking alternatives to incarceration such as reforming sentencing laws and expanded parole possibilities.

Authors of the report noted the incarcerated population in the United States has grown more than 500 percent since the 1980's - to more than 2.2 million people behind bars. Read more about Report takes aim at 'treatment industrial complex'

Nov 17, 2014
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The Daily Texan

Protesters rally against Red McCombs' affiliation with immigration detention facility

"A group of protesters met with Thomas Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, on Monday to ask him to request the school’s namesake, Red McCombs, break his real estate firm’s lease that will pave the way for the construction of the biggest immigrant detention facility in the nation. 

The group of protestors, which included students, sought to speak with the dean about the business school’s position on the subject. Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator at Grassroots Leadership and one of the six protesters who spoke with Gilligan, said one of her main concerns was McCombs’ involvement with the facilities. 

'I think we all have a claim to UT as Texans, and we want to talk to him about our concerns,” Parker said. “It’s problematic for us that a man whose name is on the building is profiting from a modern day internment camp.'”  Read more about Protesters rally against Red McCombs' affiliation with immigration detention facility

Nov 13, 2014
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RH Reality Check

Asylum-Seeking Women and Children Are Treated Like Dangerous Criminals When They Arrive

"A private prison company could be making hundreds of dollars each day keeping 7-year-old Nayely Beltran under lock and key.

Instead, on one warm October morning, Nayely is zooming around a home in East Austin, Texas, showing off her new braids and handing out hugs to anyone who’ll take one. She’s finding a lot of takers at Posada Esperanza, a nonprofit shelter for immigrant moms and kids—currently about 20 people—who are seeking asylum in the United States." 

Read more to find out what Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker says about the return to family detention by the Obama Administration. Read more about Asylum-Seeking Women and Children Are Treated Like Dangerous Criminals When They Arrive

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