Grassroots Leadership In The News

Feb 19, 2013
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.” [node:read-more:link]

Feb 12, 2013
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.” [node:read-more:link]

Jan 24, 2013

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.” [node:read-more:link]

Dec 12, 2012
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.” [node:read-more:link]

Dec 2, 2012
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. [node:read-more:link]

Nov 20, 2012
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.” [node:read-more:link]

Nov 14, 2012
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. [node:read-more:link]

Oct 4, 2012
The Texas Observer

State Rejects GEO Care’s Bid to Privatize Psychiatric Hospital

“This is a testament to the role that advocacy can play in shaping decisions,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. His organization, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the United Methodist Church stated their opposition to GEO Care’s bid in a letter to DSHS, the Legislative Budget Board, and Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year. “The reason the proposal was rejected is telling of the problems with privatization—you make your money by cutting staff and paying them less while the care of your patients suffers,” Libal said. [node:read-more:link]

Oct 1, 2012
Texas Civil Rights Review

A Grassroots Leadership Report on Operation Streamline

Bob Libal, the Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, a human rights advocacy group, has coauthored a 27-page report, Operation Streamline: Costs and Consequences, and he forwarded me a copy. The report describes how $5.5 billion has been spent since 2005 “turning undocumented immigrants into federal prison inmates,” and enriching private prison corporations. [node:read-more:link]

Sep 21, 2012
The Texas Observer

Behind the Private Prison Company That May Take Over Kerrville State Hospital

"Why would the state continue to award companies with an incredibly troubled record like GEO's?," asked Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a group that opposes private prisons. "I think one answer is that Geo has spent millions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying over the last several years. That lobbying power pays off when you have riders that explicitly benefit the company." [node:read-more:link]