Research on private prisons and their connection to modern slavery through immigration policies.
Movement School for the Revolutionary in ‘Our Revolution’ SC.
July 22, 2017,
Immigration Enforcement Policy/ Prison Industrial Complex This discussion exposes the complexities of the private prison industry in relation to the commodification of undocumented immigrants. Immigrants have become corporate interests that affect state and federal policies in order to engender mass incarceration.
International Longshoreman Hall 1142 Morrison Drive Charleston, SC 29403 9 AM till 4 PM
Following the money and line of events in chronological order. 2013 through 2017
News reports are not included in their entirety.;
- Little-Known Immigration Mandate Keeps Detention Beds Full 11/19/2013 npr.org
Imagine your city council telling the police department how many people it had to keep in jail each night.
That’s effectively what Congress has told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with a policy known as the “detention bed mandate.” The mandate calls for filling 34,000 beds in some 250 facilities across the country, per day, with immigrant detainees.
The detention bed mandate, which began in 2009, is just part of the massive increase in enforcement-only immigration policies over the last two decades. The last time Congress passed a broad immigration law dealing with something other than enforcement — such as overhauling visa or guest worker policies — was 1986.
- Immigrants Are Being Held In Private Texas Prisons And Are Subject To ‘Shocking Abuse’ businessinsider.com 6/2014
Between 2009 and 2014, the ACLU visited all five Texas prisons, interviewed hundreds of prisoners and their families and reviewed contracts, medical records and other documents held by the Bureau of Prisons.
The report describes BOP policies that incentivize overcrowding, indiscriminate use of solitary confinement, and extreme cost-cutting measures that have led to both the death of prisoners and an unusually high number of riots among low-security inmates.
Willacy, located in Raymondville, an impoverished and remote south Texas town about 40 miles from the border, had gone up in a hurry, the result of a $65m no-bid contract tainted by charges of corruption among county officials. Run by Utah-based Management & Training Corp, the 2,000-bed detention center came to be known as “Ritmo” (a play on Gitmo, the nickname for Guantánamo Bay).
Others called it “Tent City” for the jail’s unusual architecture: 10 “tents” consisting of a Kevlar-like material stretched over steel frames. Each tent houses 200 men in bunk beds spaced three feet apart. Before long, reports of awful conditions inside began leaking out: beatings by guards, hundreds of sexual assault allegations, prisoners being denied silverware, maggots in the food, a dangerous lack of medical care. Detainees described their situation as hopeless.
The Willacy County Detention Center became a symbol of a cruel and reckless immigration policy. In 2011, the Obama administration, as part of a pledge to create a “truly civil detention system,” announced that it would remove all detainees from Willacy. But the tents weren’t empty for long. The Bureau of Prisons contracted with Management & Training Corp to house so-called criminal aliens – some of them undocumented migrants and some legal residents – convicted in federal court mostly of immigration crimes. The 10-year contract is worth up to $532m. Inmate advocates said virtually nothing about the facility changed, except which federal agency was nominally in charge.
The ACLU report depicts Willacy as a human pressure-cooker, where inmates have rioted in reaction to overcrowding, squalid conditions and a lack of anything to occupy their time. Inmates described overflowing toilets, insect-infested facilities and tiny recreation yards that have to be shared by 400 prisoners.
The few prison jobs available pay between 11 and 17¢ an hour
Overcrowding is also a result of BOP policies that financially reward prison companies for stuffing their prisons to the breaking point, according to the report. All the Texas contracts require that the prisons maintain at least 90% occupancy, and provide extra payments for additional inmates up to 115% of capacity.
Last year, 97,384 people were prosecuted for immigration crimes in the US, a 367% increase from 2003, according to Syracuse University’s Trac Immigration project. Nationwide, more than half of all federal criminal prosecutions last year were for illegal entry or reentry into the United States. More people are sent to federal prison for immigration offenses than for violent crime, weapons, and property offenses combined.
This criminalization of immigration has set off a lucrative boom in private prisons.
Private prison companies insist they do not try to influence immigration law and enforcement, but in 2012 an Associated Press analysis found that the three biggest private prison companies – Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management & Training Corp – had spent $45m to lobby state and federal governments over the past decade. The three companies brought in almost $4bn in revenue in 2012 alone, according to the ACLU report.
The BOP plans to expand its contracted immigrant prison portfolio, and recently posted a solicitation for two more prisons that together can house up 4,000 “at the 115% [capacity] level.”
- Obama Asks for $3.7 Billion to Aid Border NY Times 7/8/2014
WASHINGTON — President Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to quickly provide almost $4 billion to confront a surge of young migrants from Central America crossing the border into Texas, calling it “an urgent humanitarian situation.”
The president said he needed the money to set up new detention facilities, conduct more aerial surveillance and hire immigration judges and Border Patrol agents to respond to the flood of 52,000 children. Their sudden mass migration has overwhelmed local resources and touched off protests from residents angry about the impact on the local economy. In a letter to congressional leaders, Mr. Obama urged them to “act expeditiously” on his request.
The president’s funding request is certain to revive legislative passions that prompted Mr. Obama to promise sweeping executive actions to get around Republican opposition to a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
- Closure Of Private Prison Forces Texas County To Plug Financial Gap March 26, 2015 npr.org
The Willacy County Correctional Center is empty now. The tall security fences and dome-like housing units set out on the coastal prairie have no one inside them.
One morning late last month, the prisoners rioted. They set fires and tore the place up. Guards put down the uprising in about five hours. But the destruction was so severe that the sprawling detention compound has been shut down. All 2,800 inmates were transferred.
Willacy County is now facing the question — what does it do now that its biggest moneymaker is out of business?
“Worst scenario, we’ll lose about $2.3 million annually, which is about 23 percent of our income,” says Beto Guerra, Willacy County commissioner.
This agricultural county in the Rio Grande Valley is one of the poorest in the nation. The main street of Raymondville, the county seat, is lined with Tex-Mex cafes, payday loan offices and Joe Alexandre’s jewelry store.
“Around the state we have seen several communities that have had their private prisons fail and they’re left holding the bag when it comes to the debt that they floated.”
Bob Libal “We never expected something like this, to this catastrophe, to happen all at one time,” he says.
Alexandre was mayor of Raymondville twice before, and he’s running again. He says the prison’s water and sewer bill amounted to $50,000 a month — a big boost to the city. Once insurance pays for extensive repairs to the prison, the county needs to fill those beds again.
“It’s a business,” he says. “And we’re gonna take all the advantage we can to bring in more business if possible.”
That means more inmates.
“What else can we do?” Alexandre says. “At the moment, we have been depending on inmates.”
Like other poor communities in America, Raymondville looked to for-profit prisons as a way to generate revenue and create jobs. Willacy built three of them. The Correctional Center was the largest, with a workforce of nearly 400. They’re now looking for work.
The structure of the deals typically favor the private prison companies. Willacy created a public facilities corporation, sold bonds, built the prison and hired an operator — Management & Training Corporation (MTC).
“MTC is now the third largest operator of adult correctional facilities in the nation,” its promo says. “Our reputation is that of rehabilitation, second only to security.”
MTC contracted with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to incarcerate low-security male immigrants who are serving out sentences for illegal border crossings and aggravated felonies.
For that service, the federal agency paid MTC to manage the prison. Then MTC paid the county $2.50 per prisoner, per day. But ultimately, it’s the county that’s on the hook for its $63 million debt on the nine-year-old prison.
- Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota
grassrootsleadership.org Bethany Carson and Eleana Diaz / April 2015
In 2009, in the midst of a multi-year decline in the undocumented immigrant population, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), then Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, inserted the following language regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detention budget into the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010: “…funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds.” This directive established what would become a controversial policy interpreted by ICE as a mandate to contract for and fill 33,400 (increased in 2013 to 34,000) detention beds on a daily basis. The directive would come to be known as the “immigrant detention quota” or “bed mandate.” The immigration detention quota is unprecedented; no other law enforcement agency operates under a detention quota mandated by Congress.
Since its implementation, the quota has become a driver of an increasingly aggressive immigration enforcement strategy. The immigrant detention system has expanded significantly since the implementation of the quota, and the percent of the detained population held in private facilities has increased even more dramatically. Two major private prison corporations have emerged as the main corporate beneficiaries of immigrant detention policies: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group.
This report provides an in-depth assessment of the inception and implementation of the quota, with a specific focus on the role played by for-profit, private prison corporations. These companies have profited handsomely from the artificial stability provided by the quota while contributing millions of dollars in federal lobbying expenditures and in campaign contributions to ensure their interests are met. This report also features testimony from people directly impacted by detention and deportation, revealing the momentous human cost of the quota.
- Private prison corporations have increased their share of the immigrant detention industry. Since just before the onset of the quota, the private prison industry has increased its share of immigrant detention beds by 13 percent. Sixty-two percent of all ICE immigration detention beds in the United States are now operated by for-profit prison corporations, up from 49 percent in 2009. Nine of the ten largest ICE detention centers are private. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the expansion of the entire ICE detention system by nearly 47 percent in the last decade.
- Private prison corporations lobby on immigration and immigrant detention issues that affect their bottom line. 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., Of that amount, CCA spent $9,760,000, — 61 percent of total private prison lobbying expenditures — in quarters where they directly lobbied the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee, , which maintains the immigrant detention quota language and shapes the way in which it is interpreted. Lobbying disclosure forms reveal spending on: “Issues related to comprehensive immigration reform” (GEO Group, 2013), and “FY 2014 and FY 2015 Department of Homeland Security appropriations – provisions related to privately-operated ICE detention facilities” (CCA, 2014). Since 2010, CCA has spent at least 75 percent of its lobbying expenditures in quarters where it has lobbied directly on the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee. Though GEO Group has not directly lobbied the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee, the company recently began lobbying on immigration and immigrant detention issues, spending $460,000 between 2011 and 2014 in quarters when they lobbied on these issues.
- Two private prison corporations — CCA and GEO Group — dominate the immigration detention industry. Together, they operate eight of the ten largest immigrant detention centers. GEO and CCA combined operate 72 percent of the privately contracted ICE immigrant detention beds. In the years following the implementation of the immigrant detention quota, CCA and GEO expanded their share of the total ICE immigrant detention system from 37 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2014. GEO Group in particular has increased its share of the total ICE immigrant detention system to 25 percent in FY14 from 15 percent in FY10. Both companies have significantly augmented their profits since the implementation of the quota, CCA from $133,373,000 in 2007 to $195,022,000 in 2014. GEO experienced an even more dramatic profit increase from $41,845,000 in 2007 to $143,840,000 in 2014, a 244 percent increase.
- CCA and GEO have recently expanded their immigrant detention capacity, including new contracts for detaining asylum-seeking families. Since FY2014, the most recent numbers released by ICE, both CCA and GEO have both expanded their capacity for detaining women and children in new family detention centers in South Texas. The CCA-operated South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley opened in December 2014 and currently holds about 480 women and children. It is under expansion to grow to an expected capacity of 2,400 by May 2015. If this expansion proceeds, Dilley will be the largest immigrant detention center in the U.S. The GEO-run Karnes County Residential Center opened in June 2014 and now holds around 600 women and children, but will expand to a capacity of 1,200. Additionally, in January 2015, GEO acquired LCS Corrections, which owns several large immigrant detention facilities in Texas and Louisiana, further increasing its share of the immigrant detention business.
- Flood of Immigrant Families at Border Revives Dormant Detention Program 7/25/2015 NBC News
A flood of families crossing the southwestern U.S. border illegally is prompting the Obama administration to revive a much-criticized detention program that previously led to children and their parents being held for extended periods of time in harsh prison-like conditions.
Figures released last week by Customs and Border Protection show more than 55,000 “family units” – at least one adult relative traveling with one or more children– were apprehended crossing the border in fiscal 2014. That figure is an increase of nearly 500 percent from the previous year and dwarfs the 106 percent spike in unaccompanied children — to more than 57,000 — that has received so much attention in recent months.
Family detention has for years been one of the most controversial parts of the American immigrant detention system, the world’s largest.
Now the Obama administration is rushing to open up detention centers to hold the families — mostly women with children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
The U.S. has tried large-scale family detention before. That operation sparked a lawsuit after it was discovered that children and their parents were being held in a former prison for long periods in punitive conditions.
In 2007, advocates sued the Department of Homeland Security, alleging it was keeping families at the 512-bed T. Don Hutto Residential Center near Austin, Texas, under virtual 24-hour lockdown and denying them privacy, educational opportunities and adequate health care. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrant advocates, said toddlers in prison garb spent most of the day locked in their cells at the private facility run by the Corrections Corporation of America, waiting for head counts. When the ACLU investigated in December 2006, it said some children had not stepped outside in a month.
- Corrections Corp. and GEO Group Prison Stocks Surge On Trump Win nbcnews.com 11/9/2016
Trump is supposed to be good for business and one of those businesses is the prison business.
Shares in the two largest private prison stocks jumped sharply the morning after Donald J. Trump was elected president. The Corrections Corporation of America surged by 60 percent before falling back to a 34 percent jump and GEO Group Inc. was up by 18 percent.
Shares in private prison companies jumped the morning of Trump’s win.
Following new investigative reports, including one on questionable deaths in immigrant-only prisons, the two companies had seen their stock prices fall after the Department of Justice in August said it would phase out the use of the facilities. Hillary Clinton also said all private prisons should be shut down
For his part, president-elect Donald J. Trump has called for increased deportation of undocumented immigrants. Implementing that plan would heighten prison demand by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), analysts said.
“Private prisons would likely be a clear winner under Trump, as his administration will likely rescind the DOJ’s contract phase-out and ICE capacity to house detainees will come under further stress,” analysts at Height Securities LLC wrote in a note this morning, “further necessitating a sizable contract detention population.”
- Thanks to President Donald Trump, America’s private prisons appear to be entering a gold age. CNN Money February 24, 2017
The stocks of the two biggest private prison operators — CoreCivic (formerly know as Corrections Corp. of America) and Geo Group — have doubled since election day. CoreCivic (CXW) is up 140% since Trump won in November; Geo Group (GEO) has risen 98%.
Wall Street expects prisons to get the biggest boost from Trump’s plans to deport illegal immigrants.
The Department of Homeland Security is already trying to hire 10,000 new immigration officers and 5,000 more border control agents. On top of that, DHS intends to ask for more money to fund additional detention facilities.
Both CoreCivic and Geo Group have several thousand beds currently available that could be used for undocumented immigrants, says Michael Kodesch, a stock analyst at Canaccord Genuity. Private prisons currently house roughly 8% of America’s 1.5 million federal and state prison population, according to Kodesch.
On Thursday night, the Trump Administration sent an even clearer message that it plans to use more private prisons when Attorney General Jeff Sessions scrapped the Obama-era guidance to phase them out.
“This will restore (the Bureau of Prison’s) flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs,” Trump’s Justice Department said.
Investors were thrilled, sending Geo and CoreCivic stocks even higher Friday. Shares of Geo now trade at an all-time high.
“Geo and CoreCivic are preparing to enter a sustained period of pro-private, tough on-crime policies alongside comprehensive immigration reform,” says Kodesch. “We don’t believe the rally has run its full course yet.”
- Defunct ‘tent city’ prison to reopen 2 years after prisoner riot
RAYMONDVILLE — Willacy County officials have approved a deal that will reopen a defunct immigrant prison two years after a prisoner riot left the so-called tent city in ruins.
County commissioners unanimously agreed to an offer from Management and Training Corp. that will reopen the Willacy County Correctional Centerand bring back hundreds of jobs to this rural county suffering from unemployment levels of more than 12 percent.
Under the agreement the facility will belong to MTC and will be placed on the county tax roll. Including all tax entities and the county, at least $1.5 million will be collected on the value of the prison per year, according to Aurelio “Keter” Guerra, the Willacy County judge.
President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration has forced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to expand its detention capacity, and MTC, the company that formerly operated the prison, beat out GEO Group, Inc. a Florida-based corrections and detention company, for the Willacy prison.
County commissioners also agreed to a deal that will relieve the county of its remaining bond debt obligation on the prison. It is unclear how much bondholders will be paid, however. The county had carried a $68.8 million debt.
- White House greenlights a new immigration-detention center in Texas texastribune.org 4/18/2017
A private-prison company announced Thursday that it will build a $110 million detention complex in the city of Conroe near Houston as part of a 10-year, renewable contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A private-prison company that has for years been in the crosshairs of immigrant rights groups announced Thursday it will build a $110 million detention complex in the Houston metro area.
The Florida-based GEO Group said in a news release its new facility will be built in the city of Conroe as part of a 10-year, renewable contract with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The detention center will be finished toward the end of 2018, the company said. The Associated Press first reportedthe story.
“We are very appreciative of the continued confidence placed in our company by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” George C. Zoley, GEO’s chairman and CEO said in a statement. The company expects the new facility to generate the firm about $44 million in yearly revenue.
- PRIVATE PRISON COMPANY GEO GROUP GAVE GENEROUSLY TO TRUMP AND NOW HAS LUCRATIVE CONTRACT 5/11/17 newsweek.com
Within the Texas legislature, a controversial bill is pending. A private prisons company called the GEO Group has allegedly asked Republicans to submit a law that could lead to immigrant children being indefinitely detained in its lucrative centers.
Representatives John Raney, John Cyrier and Mark Keough—all Republicans—have authored legislation that, if passed, would allow immigration detention centers to obtain child care licenses. Equipped with the permits, the centers would then be able to circumvent a 2015 federal ruling that said detained immigrant children must be transferred to a child care facility after 20 days in detention.
Raney, Cyrier and Keough’s bill would not require the detention centers to change their setups, but it could significantly benefit them. The GEO Group, which runs the Karnes Residential Center—one of two family detention facilities in Texas—earns $55 million annually from the facility. At present, just 100 of its 830 beds are occupied, according to the Associated Press.
This perhaps explains why the GEO Group—despite having a Greek immigrant, George Zoley as its CEO—is so keen to see Raney, Cyrier and Keough’s bill pass. So keen, in fact, that the organization essentially wrote it. “I’ve known the lady who’s [the GEO Group’s] lobbyist for a long time,” Raney told the Associated Press. That’s where the legislation came from. We don’t make things up. People bring things to us and ask us to help.”
From 2015 to 2016, the company’s total revenues leaped 18 percent, from $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion. Its shares are currently hovering at around $31.64 per share, an all-time high.
And the company knows who to thank: President Donald Trump.
Make the GEO Group Great Again
In August 2016, the then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced that the Obama administration would begin phasing out private prisons. In a memo about the plan, Yates said that the U.S. prison population had dropped from 220,000 people in 2013 to 195,000. As a result, the Department of Justice did not need to rely on private prisons, which had held 15 percent of all prisoners in 2013. The declining number of inmates, Yates said, “means that we can better allocate our resources to ensure that inmates are in the safest facilities and receiving the best rehabilitative services.”
The day Yates made her announcement, on August 18, the GEO Group’s stock fell from $21.53 a share to $13.01. Investors had clearly realized the impact of Yates’ decree on the GEO Group—in 2015, 45 percent of the company’s revenue came from government agencies.
Spend Money to Make Money
On August 19, the day after Yates’ announcement, GEO Corrections Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of the GEO Group, donated $100,000 to the pro-Trump PAC Rebuilding America Now. Then, on November 1 —seven days before the presidential election— it gave another $125,000 to the organization.
In addition, GEO Corrections Holding Inc. had donated $200,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican PAC, on September 27, 2016, and $100,000 to the Conservative Solutions PAC on April 17, 2015.
But these donations might be illegal. In November, the Campaign Legal Center, a D.C.-based organization of election law experts, submitted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, which it updated in December. The document pointed out that “according to publicly-available records, GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc. appears to be a federal contractor.” Under campaign finance laws, federal contractors cannot make political donations.
Despite the ongoing complaint, for the moment, the GEO Group has won: The candidate it backed is now in the White House. When Trump began sourcing donations for his inauguration festivities, the GEO Group, and Core Civic (The U.S.’ largest private-prisons contractor, the GEO Group is the second-largest) each gave $250,000.
Daniel Ragsdale, Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is rumored to be moving to the GEO Group at the end of the month. Though neither the GEO Group nor Ragsdale have commented on this (Paez told Newsweek the company doesn’t discuss employment-related matters) the Department for Homeland Security told The Daily Beast that Ragsdale is moving to the private sector.
If the rumors are true, then 2017 looks to be an even more lucrative year for the GEO Group.
- Thousands of immigrant detainees sue private prison firm over ‘forced’ labor – LA Times 5/2017
One class involves roughly 2,000 people who, like Xahuentitla, participated in the voluntary work program. She also alleges that she was only paid for two of the four weeks she worked in the program.
The other class involves up to 60,000 immigrants who plaintiffs’ attorneys say were coerced to mop floors, clean windows, wipe down mattresses and clean up dining areas under the threat of solitary confinement, according to court filings.
GEO attorneys in court papers said ICE requires detainees to keep tidy living quarters, but plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the work detainees were compelled to perform went far beyond the scope of the housekeeping requirement.
By relying on the free work of the detainees, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued, GEO maintains its entire facility with just one janitor on the payroll. They claim the company violated the forced labor provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.