On any given day, at least 34,000 people are detained in immigrant detention centers in the U.S. to meet an arbitrary lock-up quota dictated by Congress. Stopping the quota would be a giant step forward in ending our reliance on detention. Grassroots Leadership researches and exposes the role of for-profit prisons and their lobbyists in enacting the quota contributes to the growing national movement to stop immigrant detention.
Detention and the #EndTheQuota Campaign
Detained women seeking asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief began an indefinite hunger strike at an immigration detention center in Texas on Wednesday night, sending hand-written letters to the federal government calling for their release.
At least 27 immigrant women refused dinner on Wednesday at the T. Don Hutto detention center, which is run by the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America. The majority of the women came to the U.S. after fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, and many have already passed their “credible fear” or “reasonable fear” interviews — a preliminary step in the asylum application process. Read more about Immigrant Women Launch Indefinite Hunger Strike, Asking To Be Freed From Detention Center
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. Read more about Donald Trump Demands Super PACs Supporting Him Return Money, as Hillary Clinton Disavows Private Prison PACs
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
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. Read more about Interfaith Council, Nuns Urge Education, Action on Private Prisons
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." Read more about We Must End For-Profit Prisons
Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based national organization working to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention, hailed the legislation as "a major stride toward a justice system that is obliged to put human beings over private interests."
"As long as there are corporate financial incentives for locking people up and keeping them behind bars, reforming drug laws and other sentencing policies will produce limited results for meaningfully decreasing the astronomical rate of incarceration in this country," said Kymberlie Quong Charles, criminal justice programs director for Grassroots Leadership. Read more about 'Justice Is Not For Sale': Bernie Sanders Leads Charge Against For-Profit Prisons
WASHINGTON -- Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation on Thursday that promises to ban government contracts for privately run prisons and jails within three years. Implementing such a plan would be an ambitious effort, as it would give authorities more than 100,000 additional inmates to manage -- the number held in private facilities as of 2013. The bill's immigration provisions are similarly bold.
"We have got to do everything that we can as a nation to end that reality of locking up so many people, and we have got to do it as rapidly as possible," Sanders said at a press conference on Thursday.
The Justice Is Not For Sale Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and other lawmakers, would ban federal, state and local governments from contracting with private companies to run prisons and other detention facilities. Within three years, facilities housing prisoners must be under government control.
The bed mandate and use of private prison contractors, in particular, are incentives for immigration agents to apprehend and detain as many people as possible, according to advocates for reform. The government is required to maintain 34,000 beds to hold immigrants who are undergoing deportation proceedings.
Officials say they consider that mandate to refer to having the capacity to detain that number, not actually having those beds full at all times. But more people in detention means more money for the companies housing immigrants awaiting deportation, because 62 percent of beds are in privately run facilities, according to the civil rights group Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Bernie Sanders Wants To End Private Prisons. That's Really Ambitious.
Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill) introduced the Justice is Not for Sale Act, a comprehensive bill that outlaws the use of for-profit prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers. Read more about 7 good things that will happen if we ban private prisons with the #JusticeNot4Sale Act
(AUSTIN, Texas) — Grassroots Leadership today applauded the introduction of the Justice is Not for Sale Act, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.). The bill bars the federal government and state and local jurisdictions from contracting with private corporations to run prisons and detention facilities, reinstates the federal parole system, and makes several changes immigration detention law. Read more about Grassroots Leadership applauds “Justice is Not For Sale” Act to end for-profit prisons
Construction on private prison-operated facilities has grown nationwide, especially in Texas. At 39 percent, Texas has the highest concentration of privately run detention beds in the country, according to the immigrant advocacy group Grassroots Leadership.
The two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, operate 72 percent of the private immigrant detention industry. Both companies reported surging profits in their quarterly earnings. That’s in part because many contracts include occupancy requirements mandating that state or local governments must keep facilities anywhere between 80 and 100 percent full. On top of that, Congress has a so-called bed mandate, requiring that the Department of Homeland Security make available at least 34,000 beds every night for immigrant detention. That figure has been adjusted to around 31,000 for the 2015 fiscal year. Read more about The Financial Collapse Of The Private Immigrant Detention Industry