immigrant detention

Sep 21, 2016
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Fort Worth Weekly

Private Hells

A scathing early-August report by the Office of the Inspector General on the quality-of-inmate-life in private prisons led to a very quick decision by the Department of Justice: Unless a new contract is “substantially reduce[d] in scope in a manner consistent with law,” the Bureau of Prisons must allow its current contracts with private prisons to expire.

The U.S. deputy attorney general said she believes this is just the beginning. In a memo to the acting director of the BOP, Sally Q. Yates wrote, “This is the first step in the process of reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

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But on Friday, Aug. 25, Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary, announced that he has ordered “a review of for-profit immigration detention contracts.”

The homeland security review comes as something of a surprise: In an e-mail to me later on that same Friday, ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok indicated that private prisons would continue to be utilized as part of ICE’s inventory of prisoner housing. It should be noted, he included in his message that “ICE detention is solely for the purpose of either awaiting the resolution of an individual’s immigration case or to carry out a removal order. ICE does not detain for punitive reasons.”

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit focused on ending the use of private prisons in the United States, scoffed at the notion that ICE prisons are not punitive.

“People stay in ICE facilities for weeks, months, sometimes years,” he told me in response to Rusnok’s comments. “Just because they put pictures on the walls doesn’t mean [the facilities] are not punitive. There are still locks on the doors and guards to keep you from leaving.” Read more about Private Hells

Aug 30, 2016
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Public News Service

DHS to Review Use of For-Profit Detention for Immigrants

AUSTIN, Texas - The federal Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it will review its policy of detaining undocumented immigrants in private, for-profit facilities. The announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson comes on the heels of a decision by the Department of Justice to phase out private companies used to operate federal prisons.

Christina Parker, the immigration programs director with Grassroots Leadership, said her group has documented a litany of problems and abuse at the for-profit immigration facilities located in Texas and elsewhere.

"They say that they're going to conduct a review looking at all aspects of contracting in these facilities, how they've operated and what happened there, the kind of abuses and neglect that we see in those facilities," she said. "Any honest review looking at that would have to result in them terminating their contracts just like the DOJ did." Read more about DHS to Review Use of For-Profit Detention for Immigrants

Aug 28, 2016
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Arizona Republic

Valdez: Private prisons are an immoral, publicly funded mistake

In Arizona, Republican supporters of for-profit prisons ended the cost-benefit discussion about for-profit state prisons in 2012 by repealing a requirement to compare private prisons with those run by the state.

In reality, cost-benefit discussions are a distraction. The bedrock goal of a private prison is to make money. That’s the point.

Detainees are dollar signs. That’s the problem.

“There’s something morally wrong with making a profit from locking up human beings,” Libal said.

Tax dollars built the private prison industry. The withdrawal of tax dollars can dismantle it. Read more about Valdez: Private prisons are an immoral, publicly funded mistake

Aug 23, 2016
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Daily Tarheel

NC private prison among 14 impacted by Department of Justice announcement

North Carolina ended its use of private prisons in 2000 after little cost-savings, said Daniel Bowes, an attorney at the Second Chance Initiative at the N.C. Justice Center.
 
“A lot of the benefits that were touted regarding privatizing prisons just based on the DOJ report haven’t proven to be true,” Bowes said.
 
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a Texas prison reform group, said Criminal Alien Requirement facility inmates are often convicted of drug or immigration crimes.
 
“(This decision) will essentially reintegrate the federal prison system,” Libal said.
 
The decision does not apply to immigration detention facilities contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to a report by Grassroots Leadership, 62 percent of all beds in ICE immigration detention centers are operated by private corporations. Read more about NC private prison among 14 impacted by Department of Justice announcement
Aug 20, 2016
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Arizona Republic

Could for-profit immigrant detention centers, including in Arizona, be next on feds' hit list?

Plans by the Department of Justice to begin phasing out contracts with private prisons is fueling calls from immigrant advocates to also end the use of private immigration detention centers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has in recent years increasingly contracted with private for-profit companies to run a vast network of detention centers to hold immigrants, including the 1,550-bed Eloy Detention Center in Pinal County about 60 miles south of Phoenix.

Critics contend the use of for-profit companies to run immigration detention centers has fueled a trend to hold more people rather than use less expensive alternatives to detention.

"These companies have financial interest in making sure that these detention facilities are full," said Bob Libal,​ executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group based in Austin, Texas, that opposes private prisons. Read more about Could for-profit immigrant detention centers, including in Arizona, be next on feds' hit list?

Aug 18, 2016
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Vice

The federal shutdown of private prisons only affects a fraction of inmates

News that the federal government is rolling back its dealings with private prisons was a big enough deal on Thursday that it sent Corrections Corp stock plummeting within 60 seconds.

It's no small thing: the government's decision to decline or let expire contracts with the 13 private prisons across the country will affect about 40,000 inmates held inside, according to a 2014 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

But this move only affects a fraction of inmates locked up by the private sector: the same report shows over 91,000 are housed in state prisons, which will be untouched by the DOJ's decision. The BJS report does not include private county prisons.

Nor will the decision touch the private detention operations of the Immigration and and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is housed under the Department of Homeland Security, a bigger client to the private prison industry than the DOJ. ICE is under a mandate to hold 34,000 detainees at a time, and corporations oversee 62 percent of ICE's detention beds.

A damning report by the Inspector General a week ago found private inmates get worse treatment, fewer resources, and shabbier conditions than their counterparts in publicly-run prisons.

"I would still say this is an historic day and may mark a turning point," said Bob Libal, executive director at Grassroots Leadership, a civil rights group that studies and organizes to end private prisons.

"I hope it's one of many big days to come," he added. Read more about The federal shutdown of private prisons only affects a fraction of inmates

May 25, 2016
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San Antonio Current

Ill-gotten Gains, Gender Equality in Government, Seeing Green

The times in Texas are good for the for-profit prison industry.

The GEO Group, which operates the immigrant detention facility in Karnes County, and Corrections Corp. of America, which runs a similar facility in Dilley, Texas, are rolling in cash.

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Grassroots Leadership Immigration Programs Director Cristina Parker said that money is made off of the suffering of mothers and children who came to the U.S. seeking refuge.

"It's sickening to hear CCA and GEO brag about their profitable quarter to shareholders," Parker said. Read more about Ill-gotten Gains, Gender Equality in Government, Seeing Green

Apr 6, 2016
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Houston Press

UH Students Urge University to Divest From For-Profit Prisons

Grad students at the University of Houston have launched a petition urging the school to divest from the private prison industry, which is made up of companies that profit from incarcerating people.

Two social work students, Julia Kramp and Nakia Winfield, learned that UH had several million dollars invested in four major financial corporations that, in turn, each had millions of shares in private prisons. The two had been tasked with launching a social policy initiative as a class project and had been following End Mass Incarceration Houston, which often criticizes these private prisons for making a buck off mass incarceration. So when Kramp and Winfield found out UH was, indirectly, investing in this industry,  they reached out to End Mass Incarceration Houston and started putting together a Change.org petition urging UH to stop “banking on bondage.” Now, the petition has more than 200 signatures. Read more about UH Students Urge University to Divest From For-Profit Prisons

This is what you can do: Demand release of women targeted for retaliation in #Hutto27 hunger strike

As a hunger strike inside the Hutto immigrant detention center in Taylor, Texas spreads throughout the facility, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are ramping up retaliation and abuse against women participating in the protest.  Read more about This is what you can do: Demand release of women targeted for retaliation in #Hutto27 hunger strike

Oct 9, 2015
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Fusion

Meet Juan, the DREAMer who interrupted Hillary Clinton’s big speech

Roughly 23,000 immigrants are held each night in private prisons that are contracted out to corporations by the Bureau of Prisons. An estimated 62% of all immigration detention beds in the U.S. are operated by for-profit prison corporations, up from 49% in 2009, according to a report released earlier this year by Grassroots Leadership, a group whose mission it is to end for-profit incarceration. Read more about Meet Juan, the DREAMer who interrupted Hillary Clinton’s big speech

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