Watch a brief excerpt from our vigil for those who died locked up in Texas prisons during 2016. See more pictures and videos on our Facebook as well. Read more about Candlelight Vigil for Texas Prison Closure
In a February 22 call with investors, the private prison corporation GEO Group openly boasted that the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is boosting its bottom line and fueling its expansion.
One of the largest private prison companies in the world, GEO Group, stands accused of widespread human rights violations, including charges that the company forced tens of thousands of immigrants in ICE detention at the Aurora, Colorado Denver Contract Detention Facility to perform slave labor. GEO Group’s Karnes family detention center in Texas, where mothers are incarcerated with their children, has been the site of repeated hunger strikes over poor conditions and indefinite detention.
Speaking with investors (transcript is available here), David Donahue, the President of GEO Corrections and Detention, directly cited the Trump administration’s “deportation force” as a boon to business.
Speaking with investors, chairman and chief executive officer George Zoley gloated, “We’re very pleased with our strong fourth quarter and year end results and our outlook for 2017," adding: “It is gratifying to see GEO’s continued financial success.”
Zoley went on to directly cite Trump’s anti-immigrant executive orders as a boon to business, proclaiming:
With respect to detention services, in support of border security, we would continue to be the largest provider of detention services to the three federal agencies — that is to ICE, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service. With this increased and expanded approach to border security, the first agency that will need additional capacity is ICE. Border Patrol will catch individuals and then send them to an ICE facility. Subsequently, there will be a need by the U.S. Marshals Service for those people that have committed criminal acts and need to be detained for adjudication. And further on down the line, BOP will need additional capacity as well for those people who’ve been sentenced and need to serve their time in one of the CAR facilities.
So it’s really an escalation of capacity need for all three federal agencies as a result of the president’s new executive orders redirecting the approach to border security for the three federal agencies.
The advocacy organization Grassroots Leadership blasted the company for profiting from Trump’s plans to implement mass deportations. "While immigrant communities are being terrorized by raids, the private prison industry is quietly celebrating a potential boom in business,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of the organization. “Prison companies like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America are preparing for an enormous expansion to detention under this administration. Mass deportations should make our country ashamed, not make private prison executives rich." Read more about Private Prison Execs Are Gloating Over Soaring Profits from Trump's Mass Deportation Agenda
President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to deport millions of immigrants in the country illegally and his selection of tough-on-crime Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general could mean big money for the private prison industry.
Immigration detention centers are particularly profitable for private prison companies because they command a higher rate for each inmate bed, he said.
Yet what’s good for investors isn’t good for the country, said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a national nonprofit group that works to reduce incarceration and detention rates.
“”They’re handing the keys to a deportation machine over to the Trump administration,” Libal said. “And I think there’s no reason to believe that the Trump administration won’t drive that machine forward through human rights protections or due process protections people in the detention system.” Read more about Trump stance on illegal immigration may aid private prisons
News of the escape raised concerns from criminal justice advocates and civil rights advocates.
The incident "seems to encapsulate all of problems of turning a jail over to a for-profit prison corporation," said Bob Libal, Executive Director Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based civil-rights organization and an outspoken opponent of the private prison industry. "Including incentivizing high rates of incarceration, staffing at a very low level to mazimize profits, which lead to operational outcomes like you've seen - failed inspections and escapes. These things are all preventable, but symptomatic of for-profit prison corporations operating jails as for-profit and not for rehabilitation or public safety, frankly." Read more about Inmate still on lam after escape from Liberty County Jail
We are appalled to learn of CCA’s recent humiliation of a female visitor, a regular, to one of their Tennessee facilities where she was forced by guards to expose her genitals to prove that she was menstruating. According to a federal lawsuit filed this week, despite already being cleared through one security checkpoint and offering to relinquish the sanitary napkin that prompted the scrutiny, she was not free to leave the facility without being searched.Read more about Humpday Hall of Shame: Is CCA running prisons or fraternities?
Visiting Immigrant women in Detention in Taylor, Texas, came into my life at a particular time. The first year of my return to Austin, after more than 4 years teaching in Xalapa, Mexico was rough. Finally I turned 62 and began to receive a small income from social security– as well as land a studio apartment in a Foundations Communities property. Within weeks of moving into my own place and regaining some stability in my life, I attended an Orientation to Visitation. Geoff Valdes, who was an old friend from when we were part of Accion Zapatista, had suggested the Hutto Visitation Program to me when I told him that I wanted to get involved with something meaningful – where I could use my Spanish.
In November of 2011 I made my first visit to Hutto, with a woman who had been visiting a woman from Guatemala for a month or so already. After talking to me on a couple of visits, the Guatemalan woman told me that she knew a woman from Honduras who really needed a visit. That is when I met the first woman I would know from Honduras. Then there was another woman who wanted a visitor; she was from El Salvador. I have continued to visit, woman after woman, as ICE continues in its relentless seize and capture mission of Central American refugees. I have never been to Central America – though some astute students of Colonial and Imperialist history of the region might allow me to count three months in Chiapas as Central America.Read more about Call for Involvement of Faith Communities in Detention Visitation Programs
Kentucky plans to make the private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), rich off of taxpayer money by locking up aging and sick people. This new prison plan will fill a CCA prison that closed after prisoners were relocated due to horrendous sexual assault allegations and penal reforms.
Despite the fact that Kentucky kicked CCA out of their state mere months ago, they are allowing the company to fill this empty prison to operate as an “assisted living and nursing facility.” Kentucky’s Department of Corrections has made it clear that this is not an initiative they requested or are behind.Read more about Hump Day Hall of Shame: Kentucky locks up aging and sick, CCA gets rich...twice
In October we caught wind that West Virginia Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein is looking to transfer and house up to 400 prisoners out-of-state in attempts to alleviate prison overcrowding at home.
According to the West Virginia Gazette, representatives from two private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Community Education Centers (CEC) — attended a mandatory pre-bid conference and were able to submit bids for the contract on November 5th. The conference was open to other state departments interested in bidding on the deal, but only the two private contractors attended to express interest. The opening of those bids has been postponed twice. They are now set for December 5th.Read more about West Virginia Poised to Join Shameful Trend of Shipping Prisoners Out-of-State
A prison physician – Dr. Mark E. Walden - has been accused of sexually abusing at least 25 men incarcerated at two separate private prisons in New Mexico. Alleged abuses began in 2010 and include excessive and inappropriate digital anal penetration and probing during examinations, according to lawsuits.
The allegations against Walden point to a double dose of privatization gone amuck. Read more about A Double Dose of Privatization Pitfalls
Last week we began a conversation about the privatization of services within correctional facilities, highlighting Ohio Governor John Kasich’s move to privatize food service throughout the state’s prison system, including juvenile detention facilities. Today we want to examine another vital service that has been increasingly seized by private providers – health care, specifically mental health services, within correctional facilities.