By April M. Short for AlterNet – 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.
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. One of the ugliest policies in the move to privatize public services has been the private prison industry. We have reported on the abuses of private prisons, riots at them and how they put profit ahead of prisoners as these shocking photos show. The private prison industry is a corrupting influence in US politics. We have reported on how “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is striking deals with private prison companies to lock up a “guaranteed minimum” of mothers with their children in euphemistically-termed family detention centers” and how they are getting wealthy abusing immigrants. Corporations are turning the US justice system into a profit making venture at every step in the process. This decision to continue to use private prisons by the Trump administration ensures that the profit of private prisons will come before treating prisoners humanely. The trend toward corporate profiteering from what is becoming a prison-industrial complex will continue. Injustice will thrive while justice is diminished.
By Bill Quigley for Popular Resistance. Resistance to unjust government action is the duty of all people who care about human rights As Dr. King reminded us in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” It is now clear that Latinos and Muslims are Trump’s first target for government actions. The orders just released put ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and US Customs and Border Protection on steroids. These new policies also will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ , as well as Black and Muslim communities.
By César for CrImmigration – Yesterday, CoreCivic, the new name for the Corrections Corporation of America, announced a new contract with ICE to imprison thousands of migrants in Ohio. CoreCivic/CCA will operate 2,016 beds for ICE at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center. CoreCivic/CCA already holds approximately 600 migrants at the same facility on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service. While people being held on behalf of ICE are generally awaiting immigration court hearings, those held on behalf of USMS are held pending federal criminal prosecution. This represents another instance in which ICE helps boost the bottom line for private prison corporations.
By Mike Ludwig for Truthout – Not long after returning home from the Dakota Access pipeline protests at Standing Rock, Oregon resident Ali Pullen was testifying before the Portland City Council in an effort to dump several large corporations from the city’s list of contractors and investment interests. Pullen, who had traveled to Standing Rock with a delegation of people of color from Portland, specifically testified about Caterpillar, a major construction contractor for Dakota Access, and Wells Fargo, one of 17 banks financing a pipeline that activists are now risking life and limb to stop.
By Hanna Kozlowska for Quartz – Critics have long denounced private prisons in the US as unsafe, inefficient and at times, inhumane. Those critics, who include inmates and activists, seemed to find a powerful ally earlier this year when the Department of Justice announced it would phase out its use of private prisons for federal prisoners. This wouldn’t mean the end of privately-run incarceration facilities (they’re also used by immigration authorities and states), but it was seen as a step forward.
By Kevin Thomas for DC Media Group. Washington, DC – Undocumented immigrants and their allies traveled this week from Trump Tower in New York City to the White House in Washington, DC, as part of a movement called “Caravan of Courage” to demand action from President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump. The Dream Action Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, organized the march in the wake of Trump’s election and as Obama’s presidency, which has seen a record number of deportations, enters its final weeks. On their trip from Trump Tower to the White House, the group made stops along the route to support other activists, including organizers against a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Philadelphia.
By Staff of ACLU – WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it is ordering the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to begin phasing out its use of private prisons. The order, announced by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, includes amending the solicitation for five private prisons in Texas from 10,800 prisoners to 3,600. By May of 2017, the BOP is expected to have 14,000 prisoners in private prisons, a decline of about 50 percent from the peak a few years ago.
By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is striking deals with private prison companies to lock up a “guaranteed minimum” of mothers with their children in euphemistically-termed family detention centers. The 2009 congressional mandate for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep a minimum of 34,000 people minimum locked up at any given time is already well-established. But a new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Detention Watch Network reveals that this federal quota rests, in part, on aggressive deals with companies in the business of locking up families.
By Mike Ludwig in TruthOut. The prison industry in the United States has grown so large that there are no less than seven professional associations for people who work at prisons and jails. The industry conferences held by these associations provide a perfect venue for private corrections companies to influence government officials with little public oversight, according to a recent report by the watchdog group In The Public Interest (ITPI). The biggest names in the prison business spend millions of dollars sponsoring these conferences and wooing prison officials with free massages, awards ceremonies, luxury dinner cruises and plenty of corporate schwag. Over the past week, one of the most prominent associations, the American Correctional Association (ACA), held its summer conference in Indianapolis
A privately-run prison in Mississippi holding “seriously mentally ill” prisoners stands accused of being dirty, dangerous and corrupt. East Mississippi Correctional Facility, operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), is the subject of a lawsuit brought on behalf of several prisoners at the facility. After widespread criticism of conditions inside the same prison the previous operator, the GEO group, discontinued its contract with the state in 2012. At the time, the GEO group said that the prison was “”financially underperforming.” A lawsuit first filed a year ago by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center alleged that “grossly inhumane conditions have cost many prisoners their health, and their limbs, their eyesight and even their lives.” Photos taken as part of a tour of the prison, showed “charred door frames, broken light fixtures and toilets, exposed electrical wires, and what advocates said were infected wounds on prisoners’ arms and legs,” according to the New York Times.
What sort of criminal is the target of most federal prosecutions? Mobsters? Bank robbers? No: illegal immigrants. And where do they go? To private prisons, for whom America’s immigration system is a giant profit center. A new report from the ACLU takes a deep look at Criminal Alien Requirement [CAR] prisons—privately run federal prisons designed to house people convicted of breaking immigrations laws. You might be shocked to learn how big of a business this has become. From the report: Nationwide, more than half of all federal criminal prosecutions initiated in fiscal year 2013 were for unlawfully crossing the border into the United States—an act that has traditionally been treated as a civil offense resulting in deportation, rather than as a criminal act resulting in incarceration in a federal prison. This is dramatically changing who enters the federal prison system. The tipping point came in 2009, when more people entered federal prison for immigration offenses than for violent, weapons, and property offenses combined—and the number has continued to rise each year since. Thanks to very deliberate choices on the part of our legal system, more immigration violations now end with prison, rather than with deportation.