"The answer to the family detention crisis is not contracting for new detention camps, regardless of where they are or who operates them. The answer is ending the practice of locking up kids and their moms once and for all,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, in a press statement released Tuesday. “The Obama administration has a choice—will its legacy be ending family detention or codifying the largest trend in locking up families in this country since Japanese internment." [node:read-more:link]
It’s not easy to find out what happens inside the walls of ICE’s numerous detention centers. Critics complain of a persistent culture of secrecy within the agency, and details about the circumstances of hunger strikes can be sparse even on the occasion that ICE will acknowledge one. Rarely will the agency grant more than a yes or no confirmation.
But through a FOIA request to ICE, ThinkProgress obtained a document that provides some clarity: CCA’s emergency food strike plan. The disciplinary nature of the company’s policy (embedded below) stood out to Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project who specializes in immigration detention.
“The thrust of the policy is to squelch the protest rather to address any medical or health concerns,” Takei told ThinkProgress after reviewing its content. “It’s very different from ICE’s hunger strike policy, because ICE’s hunger strike policy is primarily about medical procedures and medical concerns. This policy is about security and control.“
The policy also carved out punishments for food strikers, noting that participants would have their all of their commissary purchasing privileges suspended, and could have radio, visitation, and phone privileges removed if the center’s commander chose.
“I think it’s telling that it describes a food strike as a passive-aggressive form of protest,” Takei said. “I haven’t seen a detailed policy like this that lays out both the punitive attitude and the punitive procedures. Usually this is something that is done much more informally.”
But punishment for the October incident allegedly went beyond what was written into CCA’s policy. Grassroots Leadership claims ICE and/or CCA retaliated against strikers by placing them in solitary confinement and then sending them to other detention centers. In response to a FOIA request, ICE told ThinkProgress that Hutto does not use solitary confinement.
But Zelaya claims she was placed in isolation at the detention center and sent to a frigid room by herself. “When I participated in the hunger strike for my life and health I did it because I didn’t feel that they took good care of me… and for participating they punished me,” she said in a statement provided to ThinkProgress. “I was put in a room alone with so much cold, cold. I cried because my bones hurt from so much cold.”
Days later, she was transferred to a different facility, in Laredo, Texas. [node:read-more:link]
Earlier on Friday, Clinton's campaign staff confirmed to Fusion that she won't accept donations from federally registered lobbyists and PACs for private prison companies. Instead, she will donate those direct contributions to charity. It was not immediately clear which charities Clinton will choose.
"Hillary Clinton has said we must end the era of mass incarceration, and as president, she will end private prisons and private immigrant detention centers," a representative from her campaign tells Newsweek. "When we're dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don't need private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration."
Clinton’s decision reportedly follows pressure from groups, including immigration organizations and Black Lives Matter. Sixty-two percent of immigration detention beds are located in facilities operated by private prison companies, according to a report published in April by Grassroots Leadership. [node:read-more:link]
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. [node:read-more:link]
There have been 4,000 known deaths of migrants crossing the Mexico-U.S. border since 1995. Since 2001, there have been 2,100 deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border alone. That people still make the attempt is proof that they are desperate according to Sr. Yvette Rainville, DHS.
OS is a policy begun in 2005 that mandates thousands of undocumented immigrants crossing the Southern border be prosecuted in the federal criminal justice system. Some feel that the policy has turned migrants into criminals, expanded the need for prisons to hold them, made a mockery of human rights, and created an unholy alliance between private prisons and the government.
The ICE detention budget includes a mandate from congress that 34,000 immigrants be detained on a daily basis. Private prisons own nine of 10 ICE detention centers, according to a report by the Grassroots Leadership. [node:read-more:link]
The United States is experiencing a major human tragedy. We have more people in jail than any other country on earth, including Communist China, an authoritarian country four times our size. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world's population, yet we incarcerate about a quarter of its prisoners -- some 2.2 million people.
There are many ways that we must go forward to address this tragedy. One of them is to end the existence of the private for-profit prison industry which now makes millions from the incarceration of Americans. These private prisons interfere with the administration of justice. And they're driving inmate populations skyward by corrupting the political process.
No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars -- whether they're inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn't be allowed to exist at all, which is why I've introduced legislation to eliminate them.
For-profit prisons are influencing prison policy ...
... and immigration policy.
A report from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs outlines some of the ways in which private prison corporations have tried to influence immigration policy and increase incarceration rates, apparently with great success.
Grassroots Leadership found that, "contrary to private prison corporation claims that they do not lobby on issues related to immigration policy, between 2008 and 2014, CCA spent $10,560,000 in quarters where they lobbied on issues related to immigrant detention and immigration reform." [node:read-more:link]
A conversation on prison in America wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the prison industrial complex and private prisons. The term “prison industrial complex” is used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. People get paid off of prison, basically. The term is derived from the military industrial complex of the 1950s.
In 2010 the Department of Homeland Security adopted a bed quota that required Immigration and Custom Enforcement to detain about 34,000 individuals on any given day. The quota certainly did not benefit immigrants, but it did prove to be extraordinarily lucrative for the private prison companies that picked up the new business. A report released last week by Grassroots Leadership, a Texas non-profit, details how private prison companies have spent five years lobbying the government, not only to maintain that bed quota, but to enact conservative immigration reform that would continue to ensure a steady flow of inmates into its detention centers. So they get paid to put immigrants in beds in private prisons, in America. [node:read-more:link]
A former detainee says Immigration and Customs Enforcement must stop housing transgender women with men in private prisons. In a word, it's about rape.
But another report, released in early April by anti-incarceration group Grassroots Leadership, finds that ultimate goal should be the complete removal of for-profit operation of ICE detention centers.
The report, titled Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, says private corrections giants enjoy a unique position in terms of being guaranteed a revenue stream via a congressional mandate. The report names GEO Group, which runs the Texas prison named in the DOJ report, and Corrections Corporation of America, the operator of the facility where Gamino alleges she was raped, as key perpetrators of this prison-for-profit situation.
Grassroots Leadership reports that the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 includes language that has been interpreted as requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fill 33,400 beds (later increased to 34,000 beds) with detained immigrants on a daily basis.
"The directive would come to be known as the 'immigrant detention quota' or 'bed mandate,'" reads the report. "The immigration detention quota is unprecedented; no other law enforcement agency operates under a detention quota mandated by Congress."
Grassroots Leadership's Payoff report included Gamino's story, beginning with her childhood in Phoenix, where she grew up after being brought from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was 6 years old. [node:read-more:link]
The view that immigrant detention needs rethinking has gained wider traction in recent months, following the Obama administration's expansion of family detention. Roughly 68,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border illegally into the United States last year, as did a similar number of children and female guardians traveling together. The vast majority came from the violence- and poverty-plagued Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and they generally presented themselves directly to border authorities, in hopes of being treated like refugees and allowed to pursue asylum claims.
Private prison companies operate 62 percent of the immigration detention system, according to a report published earlier this year by Texas-based advocacy group Grassroots Leadership. That figure is up from 49 percent in 2009. The report argues that privatizing detention creates incentives for corporations to lobby in favor of harsher immigration laws. [node:read-more:link]
"A new study by the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership finds that the private prison industry has increased its share of immigrant detention beds by 13 percent since the 2009 quota was passed. For-profit corporations now operate sixty-two percent of ICE immigration detention beds.
At one point during the U.S. House Appropriations Committee hearing last week, Saldaña tries to explain to the tea-partier Culberson that she can’t put people in detention 'just for the heck of it.'"