Grassroots Leadership In The News

Aug 22, 2013
Texas Observer

Public Defender: Prison Reform Must Include Undocumented Immigrants

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.”

Aug 15, 2013
The McAllen Monitor

50 groups sign letter opposing McAllen's private jail project

"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. [node:read-more:link]

Jul 26, 2013
In These Times

‘Bargain’ on Immigration Would Feed Prison Profits

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. [node:read-more:link]

Jul 16, 2013
Atlanta Daily Word

Private Prison Company Increases Profits as More Blacks Land in Prison

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.

Jun 21, 2013
Houston Press

Report Highlights Houston's Pioneering Role in America's Mass Incarceration

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.

Jun 15, 2013
KUT News

Protest Aims to Close Detention Center Outside Houston

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”.

May 29, 2013
Dallas Morning News

State budget moves to close Dawson State Jail on banks of the Trinity River. But TDCJ still has final say.

“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.” [node:read-more:link]

May 6, 2013

Following Detainee Deaths, Critics Question ICE Use Of Private Prisons

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 [node:read-more:link]

May 1, 2013
KUT News

Texas Civil Rights Project Files Suit Against Private Corporation Running Dawson State Jail

“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.” [node:read-more:link]

Apr 25, 2013
The Flaming Sword of Justice

"Outside the prison, a sign that showed that day's share price"

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. [node:read-more:link]

Feb 26, 2013
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. [node:read-more:link]

Feb 26, 2013
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. [node:read-more:link]

Feb 25, 2013
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?” [node:read-more:link]