DHS

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 29, 2016
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Huffington Post

Obama Administration Considers Ending For-Profit Immigrant Detention

Private prison contractors may lose the ability to run immigrant detention centers as for-profit businesses.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is ordering a review of the agency’s policy of using private contractors to run immigrant detention centers, according to a statement issued Monday.

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ICE relies on private companies to handle most of its detention operations. Nearly two-thirds of immigrant detention beds are privatized, according to report last year by Austin-based advocacy group Grassroots Leadership. By comparison, 12 percent of Bureau of Prisons facilities are run as businesses.

“Based on the stories that have come out of for-profit detention centers for years, including hunger strikes and protests by detained migrants, there is every reason to believe that ICE-contracted private prisons have many of the same problems that the DOJ uncovered this month,” Grassroots Leadership Director Bob Libal wrote in an email. Read more about Obama Administration Considers Ending For-Profit Immigrant Detention

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

Aug 22, 2016
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AlterNet

There's a Monster Loophole in the Feds' Move to Stop Working With Private Prisons

The DOJ’s decision will impact 13 federal prisons run by private companies, or just over 22,000 incarcerated people. These people will be ostensibly shuffled to publicly-operated prisons, which is still a big problem for those who argue that mass incarceration itself is a profound injustice.

As the anti-prison-profiteering organization Grassroots Leadership explains, “Most privately-operated prisons within the BOP are Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons. CAR prisons hold noncitizens, many of whom have been criminally prosecuted for crossing the border.” Bethany Carson, researcher and organizer for the group, said in a press statement, “We hope that this decision will be a stepping stone for the DOJ to end the use of segregated prisons for non-citizens and de-prioritize improper entry and re-entry prosecutions.” Read more about There's a Monster Loophole in the Feds' Move to Stop Working With Private Prisons

May 20, 2016
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San Antonio Current

For-profit Prison Companies in Texas Made Big Money Jailing Immigrants so Far This Year

Two private for-profit prison companies operating immigrant detention facilities in Texas reported strong financial gains to shareholders this month.

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.

Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based organization that seeks to end the for-profit prison industry, reports that GEO Group told shareholders that the 626-bed expansion of the Karnes facility in December 2015 is one of a few reasons why its first quarter revenue for 2016 "increased to approximately $510 million from $427 million a year ago." Read more about For-profit Prison Companies in Texas Made Big Money Jailing Immigrants so Far This Year

May 20, 2016
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Texas Public Radio

Clinton Ignores Immigration Group's Request For Meeting During Austin Visit

While Clinton was here for a private meeting with Austin Democratic campaign donors, that didn’t stop members of the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership from trying to have a sit down with Clinton to discuss her promises to close the Karnes City and Dilley family immigration detention centers.  Though not allowed inside, members of the group snuck in and began singing inside the hotel lobby.

Cristina Parker is the immigration program director at Grassroots Leadership.

“This is a state where family detention is a really huge issue, we have massive family detention centers that hold Central American women and children.  Hillary Clinton said she is against this policy, but we are asking her to use her influence as the powerful person that she is to push the Obama administration to end this now.  She said she’ll end it in November, but these women can’t wait, they are suffering.  I don’t think she can ignore this issue in our state and just raise money and leave," Parker explained. Read more about Clinton Ignores Immigration Group's Request For Meeting During Austin Visit

May 4, 2016
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Houston Chronicle

Judge halts agency's effort to license detention center as a child-care facility

AUSTIN - The state's decision to grant a childcare license to a detention facility in Karnes City has prompted a legal battle between the state and a nonprofit grass-roots organization that won a temporary restraining order Wednesday, halting licensing until a court appearance next week.

The temporary restraining order was issued by state District Judge Karen Crump.

Last week, the Department of Family Planning Services issued a temporary child-care license to the Karnes County Residential Center, run by a private prison company. In response, the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership and two mothers detained in the facility with their children filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order. Read more about Judge halts agency's effort to license detention center as a child-care facility

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