Lawsuit: Up To 60,000 In Forced Labor In US Private Prisons

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Class-action lawsuit claims ICE played a part in breaking anti-slavery laws.

As many as 60,000 immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could play a role in a class-action lawsuit accusing a private prison company of violating federal anti-slavery laws. The lawsuit alleges that detained immigrants awaiting court dates were forced to work for $1 per day or for free, on threat of solitary

The suit was initially filed on behalf of nine immigrant plaintiffs in 2014 for $5 million in damages, but was recently moved to class action status. Now, attorneys expect damages to grow substantially, maybe involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs, as Kristine Phillips reports in a March 5 Washington Post piece detailing the lawsuit.

Phillips notes this is “the first time a class-action lawsuit accusing a private U.S. prison company of forced labor has been allowed to move forward.”

The lawsuit was initially filed against the Florida-based corporation GEO Group, which oversees a number of detention facilities that house immigrants who are awaiting court dates. In particular, GEO Group owns Denver Contract Detention Facility, which was the focus of the initial lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the detention company’s alleged practice of forcing select immigrant detainees to work for little to no pay is a violation of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The act was reauthorized in 2003, 2005 and 2008 and seeks to prevent modern-day versions of slavery.
Read Phillips’ entire Washington Post article.

  • Dawn Wolfson

    The 13th Amendment allows this, but only after a conviction. If GEO Group is forcing detainees, ie people who haven’t been convicted of a crime, to work, I hope they get slammed.

  • DHFabian

    When corporations realized how profitable prison labor could be, the explanation for moving jobs into prisons won significant public support. This agenda was sold as a means of teaching marketable skills to prisoners, and the wages earned by prisoners would then be used to help cover the costs of people in prison, thereby reducing taxpayer costs. (Of course, this has provided an incentive for increasing prison populations.)

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