Grassroots Leadership In The News

Feb 5, 2014
The Week

Yes, West Virginia, a private prison transfer is a terrible idea

"The group Grassroots Leadership — which is spearheading the effort to keep West Virginia's prisoners in West Virginiaand otherwise keeping tabs on the private prisons industry — offers these details:
- In 2012 and 2013, deadly riots broke out in a facility run by CCA under contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and in another facility run under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons.
- CCA was assessed hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial penalties from state auditors in Ohio for violations that included inadequate staffing, delays in medical treatment, and unacceptable living conditions inside the prison. CCA was also fined for placing a financial strain on the community, after the facility became so dangerous that it required the local political department to dispatch officers to maintain security.
- CCA was also found in contempt of a federal court for persistently under-staffing an Idaho prison and then lying about it, meaning that taxpayers were charged for hundreds of hours of staff time that CCA simply never delivered." Read more about Yes, West Virginia, a private prison transfer is a terrible idea

Feb 3, 2014
The Texas Tribune

Arrested Activists Call on Travis County to Implement Progressive Immigration Policy

But here in Travis County, we can take steps to counter the tide of anti-immigrant and anti-family policies. As Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, says, "There are 19 immigrants who are deported every week in Travis County because of the Secure Communities program and we think that here in Travis County we are a progressive community and that doesn't line up with our values." Read more about Arrested Activists Call on Travis County to Implement Progressive Immigration Policy

Jan 27, 2014
The Huffington Post Blog

Private Prisons: The Case for Divestment

"At ColorOfChange, the nation's predominant online civil rights organization, we want ties with private prisons to be cut everywhere. That's why we, in collaboration with Grassroots Leadership and other partners, are now calling on investors in private prison companies, board members, industry leaders and politicians to pull out their money or otherwise end their association with them. " Read more about Private Prisons: The Case for Divestment

Jan 24, 2014
Salon Magazine

Chris Christie's Texas horror: Meet the scandalous prison company he's long promoted

"I've visited a bunch of dentention facilities in Texas, and that's by far the worst," said the opponent, Bob Libal, who directs the prison reform group Grassroots Leadership and visited the Polk County Adult Detention Center with other activists in 2012 and 2013. His allegations echo a 2012 report from the Detention Watch Network, a coalition including the ACLU and the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as Libal's group: "Inadequate medical care, poor nutrition, lack of access to legal services, absence of meaningful programming, and a willful neglect of those who are imprisoned there plague the Polk detention center." Read more about Chris Christie's Texas horror: Meet the scandalous prison company he's long promoted

Jan 23, 2014
The World Post

How Corporations Are Cashing In On The Worldwide Immigration Crackdown

Critics of privatized detention in the U.S. argue that by handing off so much responsbility to private contractors, the federal government now lacks the expertise to make needed reforms to the largest detention network in the world. "They've abdicated a lot of responsibility, because it's quicker and easier this way," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a criminal justice advocacy group that campaigns against prison privatization. "The results is what's largely a captured agency. I don't see how [the immigration agency] makes major moves without consultation from the private prison corporations, and that's not an effective immigration policy."  Read more about How Corporations Are Cashing In On The Worldwide Immigration Crackdown

Jan 14, 2014
Austin Monitor

Civil rights groups: Video jail visits too costly, may be violating civil rights

“Every person in the Travis County jail is someone’s son or daughter. Many are married; many have young children. Their families are often desperate to see them, out of love and conscience. They should not carry the weight of an arbitrary tax, simply to line a contractor’s pockets, and they should be allowed to see their loved-ones in person.”-- Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Civil rights groups: Video jail visits too costly, may be violating civil rights

Jan 1, 2014

New Year's resolutions for the left: What liberals can win in 2014

End out-of-state prisoner transfers: “The findings of our report last month showed that there are more than 10,500 prisoners that are shipped across state lines to for-profit prisons from four sending states: Hawaii, California, Idaho and Vermont. In 2014, I’m hopeful that at least one of those states will end the practice of shipping prisoners out of state while developing common-sense ways to reduce prison overcrowding.” — Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership

Dec 9, 2013
West Virginia News Service

Out-of-State Private Prisons “Expensive Quagmires”

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said what is sold as a cheap, short-term solution often turns into an expensive quagmire. For-profit prisons have a terrible record for medical care and staffing, he said, with poorly trained guards. "They are very violent facilities with understaffing, scandals, lawsuits, mismanagement. The way that private prison corporations make a profit is they cut corners," Libal charged. 

Dec 4, 2013
Fort Worth Weekly

Far From Home

In the report, prepared for an Austin-based nonprofit called Grassroots Leadership, Kirby concluded that interstate transfers of inmates, intended to relieve overcrowding in the originating states, ultimately does nothing to enhance the public good. The practice, she said, serves only the “interests of an industry that views prisoners as commodities and perpetuates our nation’s mass incarceration crisis.”

Dec 4, 2013
The Hutto News

Activists remember detained immigrants

The Son Armado, Las Krudas y Kiko Villamizar Concert for Immigration Prisoners was held Sunday afternoon from outside of the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. It is a guarded, fenced-in, multi-purpose facility used to detain non-U.S. citizens awaiting the outcome of their immigration status. Texas United for Families, Grassroots Leadership, LULAC, Get Equal Texas, The Union, T. Don Hutto Visitation Program and a couple of student organizations from St. Edward’s University attended the event. Read more about Activists remember detained immigrants

Nov 30, 2013
The Charleston Gazette

Statehouse Beat: Private prison company looking at W.Va.

Most recently, Charlotte-based Grassroots Leadership published a report, "Locked Up and Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfers and the Private Prison Industry," which looked at four states - California, Hawaii, Vermont and Idaho - that house inmates in out-of-state Corrections Corporation of America prisons.  "Nothing runs more contrary to the goals of public safety, rehabilitation, and justice than an industry that profits from keeping people caged," the report concludes.

Nov 30, 2013
Valley News

Editorial: Vermont Should Stop Shipping Prison Inmates Out of State

Vermont considers itself a pretty enlightened place, and in many ways, it is. But it also has its blind spots. One of them was cast in sharp relief last week in a report that highlighted Vermont’s practice of shipping prison inmates out of state to be incarcerated in privately run, for-profit correctional facilities. This ought to be halted sooner rather than later, and not merely so the state can look at itself in the progressive mirror again. As a matter of public policy, it is inhumane, expensive and counterproductive. The report was released by a North Carolina-based organization called Grassroots Leadership, which describes itself as a social justice organization. It points out that Vermont is one of four states that export inmates to for-profit prisons, the others being California, Hawaii and Idaho.

Nov 22, 2013

Humans shipped across the country: How America exports inmates to private prisons

Over 10,500 U.S. prisoners are currently being held in private prisons hundreds or thousands of miles away from the states that sent them there, according to a new report from the progressive group Grassroots Leadership. “The practice of shipping prisoners out of state is costly, it’s unsustainable, it’s hurting families …” report author Holly Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “These transfers allow states to avoid making common-sense reforms.”

Nov 21, 2013
St. Albans Messenger

Prison Pop. Still Growing

Despite efforts to increase use of court diversion, reparative boards and other alternatives to incarceration, Vermont's prison population is increasing, with the state still sending 400 to 500 prisoners to facilities operated for profit by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). ... Grassroots Leadership, a national social justice organization, argues that sending prisoners out of state increases recidivism by impeding rehabilitation of prisoners.

Nov 21, 2013
Bennington Banner

New study: Vermont ships inmates to for-profit private prisons

Holly Kirby of Grassroots Leadership, a 33-year old national social justice organization, estimates in her report "Locked Up and Shipped Away" that a combined total of $320 million will be spent this year by California, Hawaii, Idaho and Vermont, to send their inmates between 450 and 3,000 miles from home. Read more about New study: Vermont ships inmates to for-profit private prisons

Nov 20, 2013
Burlington Free Press

Study criticizes Vermont for private-prison use

Vermont is one of only four states that sends some of its prisoners to out-of-state, privately run jails, a practice sharply criticized in a new study. “The interstate transfer of prisoners is a costly band-aid, not a root cause solution, to the problem of prison overcrowding and our nation’s mass imprisonment crisis,” the study by the Austin, Texas-based Grassroots Leadership group concluded. “On the contrary, it perpetuates our broken justice system.”