Northwest Detention Center hunger strike ends: "TO ALL OF YOU, THANK YOU FOR NOT LEAVING US ALONE"

After 56 days, the hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, operated by the GEO Group, has come to an end. This strike inspired the hunger strike at Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas, which lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to retaliate against the strikers

The Tacoma strike began on March 7 and the men, who now call themselves the "Collective of NWDC-T Detainees" announced on May 1 that they were ending the hunger strike. In so doing, the Collective also issued a letter to their supporters, titled "Assessment of one phase of struggle," which recounts ICE's retaliation exacted upon strike participants. The Collective maintains its committment to its goal, including an end to deportations and for President Barack Obama to take action. Roughly 1200 men participated in the strike. 


Part 2 of KSAT-San Antonio exposé follows the private prison money trail

On Friday, KSAT – San Antonio ran Corportations profit from immigration system, part two of reporter Steve Spriester’s Defender’s Investigation into the shady practices of private prison corporations. Spriester’s exposé – which featured Grassroots Leadership Executive Director Bob Libal – revealed the way in which private prison corporations strategically pour money into campaign contribution and lobbying efforts that will produce benefits for their bottom line by ensuring a large and steady flow of detainees.

As Spreister put it, “A stalemate on immigration reform in this country is very good for their business.”

Added Libal, "They're banking on there being a steady and increasing number of immigrants behind bars."



Humpday Hall of Shame: De-coding prison profiteering

Despite a combined revenue of more than $3.2 billion in 2012, private prison companies like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) are typically careful not to highlight the fact that they exist to make a profit.  But, regardless of what their PR teams may lead you to believe, these companies have business models that rest on perverse incentives — the more people they incarcerate the stronger their bottom line. [node:read-more:link]

Strange Bedfellows | For-Profit Prisons and Re-Entry Initiatives

This week the Travis County Sheriff’s Office is hosting the inaugural “Vision Summit: Looking Toward the Future of Re-entry”, right here in Grassroots Leadership’s backyard in Austin, Texas.  The gathering’s intention of bringing together the re-entry advocacy and service delivery community in order to better collaborate and communicate toward the goals of reducing recidivism and improving re-entry programs is one we appreciate.  It acknowledges the need, both locally and nationally, for reforms that effectively shift people out of confinement and back into society, and across the country there is a growing number of innovative and creative solutions doing just that.  The Vision Summit is a promising convening where the opportunity for cross-fertilization of ideas and experience will enhance the growing trends in rehabilitation and re-entry.


However, we question the Vision Summit’s wisdom in inviting private prison corporation GEO Group representatives to deliver a workshop on evidence-based practice and re-entry.  Surely the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and its conference partners are well aware of the presence of private prisons and mental health facilities operated by private prison companies in Texas.  Not only is there a private facility in virtually every corner of this state, but there have also been highly publicized scandals at several of them, including those operated by GEO Group, whose reputation in Texas has been littered with repeated escapes, contraband smuggling by guards, abuse, neglect, and even death.  The company’s national rap sheet reveals more of the same.


New Mexico, Take Heed: More Prison Beds are not the Answer

Last week we learned that Curry County, New Mexico commissioners may be looking to strike up a deal with city officials in Littlefield, TX to alleviate an overcrowding crisis at their county jail.


The deal would allow Curry County officials to send overflow prisoners slightly over an hour away to the currently empty Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, TX.  The facility has been empty since 2009 after the Idaho Department of Corrections cancelled their contract with private prison operator GEO Group to house Idaho prisoners there.  Consequently, GEO Group pulled out as well, leaving the residents of Littlefield with increased taxes and fees necessary to pay back the $10 million the city borrowed to construct the facility in 2000.  


The Idaho Department of Corrections’ decision to sever the contract with GEO Group came in the wake of the death of Idaho prisoner Randall McCullough at the Littlefield facility, who allegedly committed suicide while in GEO Group’s custody.  McCullough’s death led to a massive lawsuit alleging “grossly inhumane treatment, abuse, neglect, illegal and malicious conditions of confinement, and subsequent cover up of wrongdoing” by the private prison company.


Humpday Hall of Shame: Private Operators Poised to Cash In on California's Crowded Prison Crisis


Are private prisons the only answer to the current overcrowding crisis in California’s correctional system?  Having recently lost five state contracts and suffered a decrease in shares and revenues, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s largest for-profit prison company, certainly hopes so.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that California’s severely overcrowded state prison system had resulted in such poor prison conditions that they were in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  Accordingly, the court ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to take immediate action to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 prisoners.  

Though the state has reduced the number of prisoners in its 33 prisons from 150,000 in 2009 to about 119,000 prisoners today, a federal three-judge panel has rejected Governor Brown’s recent request to delay the order, ordering the state to further reduce its prison population by approximately 9,600 by the end of the year.  



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