But immigrant advocates say the private prison industry is always lobbying for more detention beds. And the consequences of government spending on prison beds can be profound, said Bob Libal, director of Grassroots Leadership, an immigration advocacy group. Congress has appropriated funds to pay for housing 34,000 illegal immigrants a day, and ICE officials "interpret that as a mandate to fill those beds regardless of what the situation outside is," said Libal. "It keeps people in detention and helps [companies'] bottom line, because half of those 34,000 beds are operated by private prison corporations."
Grassroots Leadership In The News
"The war on immigrants is surpassing efforts to reform the war on drugs," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a criminal justice advocacy group. "We will not be able to reduce the federal prison population unless we stop prosecuting so many people for immigration violations." Read more about War on Undocumented Immigrants Threatens to Swell U.S. Prison Population
The federal government spends $1 billion per year on jailing immigration defendants, according to Grassroots Leadership, a non-profit dedicated to fighting private prisons. As Sam Sparks, a federal district judge in Austin stated, the cost of immigration prosecutions, in which the immigrant doesn’t have a significant criminal record, is “simply mind boggling.”
"For-profit prisons are the wrong choice for Texas and the wrong choice for McAllen," according to the three-page letter. "We urge you to abandon plans to contract with a private prison company to construct a for-profit prison in McAllen." An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group opposed to private prisons, met with Mayor Jim Darling on Thursday. They discussed concerns about inmate conditions, lawsuits and staffing at private prisons. Read more about 50 groups sign letter opposing McAllen's private jail project
Though the private prison industry has denied lobbying directly for prison reform (although executives have acknowledged how their businesses stand to profit), the enforcement-heavy proposals bear the fingerprints of the industry's longstanding backdoor political influence. Research by Grassroots Leadership, Detention Watch and various media outlets reveals that private prisons have spent millions on federal lobbying, and in the last election season alone, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the coffers of governors, federal candidates and both political parties. Read more about ‘Bargain’ on Immigration Would Feed Prison Profits
Grassroots Leadership, a multi-racial organization working to end social and economic oppression, exposed the sordid and controversial history of the “nation’s oldest and largest for-profit private prison corporation” in the report titled, “THE DIRTY THIRTY: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America.” The report chronicled a history of prisoner abuse, escapes, poor labor conditions, and lawsuits.
But there's one gift the world's largest private-prison operator isn't eager to open -- a new report by the incarceration reformers at Grassroots Leadership, listing thirty of the company's worst instances of mismanagement, folly, riot and scandal as its profits have swelled with the prison boom over the past three decades.
Grassroots Leadership, which released the study Thursday, bills itself as "a multiracial team of organizers who help Southern and Southwest community, labor, faith, and campus organizations think critically, work strategically and take direct action to end social and economic oppression, gain power, and achieve justice and equity." Those on the conference call preceding the report's release reflected the forces pushing the study, with representatives from Human Rights Defense Center, NAACP, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees lending their support to the report's findings.
Interesting new report from advocates against private prisons. Grassroots Leadership has the full PDF here, which takes aim at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a publicly traded company celebrating its 30th year in existence this year. Read more about 'Just Like Selling Hamburgers:' 30 Years of Private Prisons in the U.S.
Austin-based nonprofits Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families organized the caravan, part of the national Detention Watch Network’s “Expose and Close” campaign, which calls for the immediate closure of 10 U.S. detention centers, including Polk County. Read more about Father's Day at the Controversial Polk County Detention Center
Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families will conduct a vigil and protest outside of Polk County Adult Detention Facility this Saturday. [...]
“Most of the men there are in small, eight person cells”, says Piper Madison, Texas organizer of Grassroots Leadership. “There’s no natural lighting, there’s no privacy. They spend up to 23 hours a day in the same 600 square feet with seven other people”.
“Estar allí, separados de sus familias es simplemente enfermizo para nuestra comunidad y nuestro país”, dice Piper Madison, organizadora y activista de la coalición Texas United for Families (Texas Unida por las Familias), en referencia a los adultos que permanecen detenidos por la irregularidad de su estatus, y separados de sus hijos. Read more about Detenciones de indocumentados activan protesta en Houston
“This victory gives us tremendous hope and momentum,” says Kymberlie Quong Charles of Grassroots Leadership, a coalition of groups that’s been pushing for Dawson’s closure. “Texas is the birthplace of the modern private prison industry. If we can get the Texas legislature to agree that private facilities are not working for our state, that’s good news for the national movement against for-profit prisons.” Read more about State budget moves to close Dawson State Jail on banks of the Trinity River. But TDCJ still has final say.
Bob Libal is with Grassroots Leadership, an activist group opposed to private prisons. He questioned whether the staffing was adequate at the Eloy facility and he points to a recent lawsuit against CCA in Idaho where the company admitted it had falsified staffing records.
"So I do think that there’s a chronic problem with staffing at some of these facilities,” Libal said Read more about Following Detainee Deaths, Critics Question ICE Use Of Private Prisons
“This is an industry that thrives when no one is paying attention," Libal said. "This is an industry that uses campaign contributions and its lobbying influence to win contracts and to maintain contracts even when there is ample evidence that these contracts should be ended. And I think there is probably no better example than what is happening here in Texas right now.” Read more about Texas Civil Rights Project Files Suit Against Private Corporation Running Dawson State Jail
Bob Libal, director of North Carolina-based Grassroots Leadership’s Austin operations, calls Dawson State Jail “a death-trap for its occupants” in today’s release. Read more about Groups sue Dawson State Jail operator, alleging "unconsionable and unconstitutional conditions."
Today's show shines a spotlight on the private prison system, with help from two of its fiercest critics: the head of Grassroots Leadership, which has helped curb some of the industry's worst excesses, and a former private-prison inmate who tells how he, during his incarceration, helped stop a massive private prison expansion... and then beat the prison company that tried to retaliate against him. Read more about "Outside the prison, a sign that showed that day's share price"
"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
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
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?