Tell the Department of Homeland Security: End private prison contracts
It could be the beginning of the end for private prisons. Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that - in the face of mounting evidence of unsafe, dangerous conditions - it will end its contracts with private prisons. It’s a huge step, but it’s not enough. Most private prison companies contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), not the DOJ, to keep thousands of immigrants, including mothers and their children fleeing violence in Central America, in the same substandard, inhumane conditions the DOJ just denounced.
Immigrant detention has exploded under the Obama administration, with conditions and treatment so horrific that the federal courts have stepped in.1 Right now there’s an important opportunity to use the momentum from the DOJ’s decision to pressure DHS to cancel its private prison contracts too. That’s why we’re joining with our friends at #Not1More campaign and ColorOfChange to call on DHS to follow the DOJ’s lead. Massive grassroots opposition to imprisoning people for profit helped force the DOJ to act. Can you help ramp up the pressure on DHS today?
Tell Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson: It’s time for DHS to stop paying private corporations to lock up and mistreat immigrants. End private prison contracts.
About 23,000 immigrants are held each night in detention centers.2 Most of these people have committed no crime other than being in the country without documents. While private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America and The Geo Group are making millions of dollars off immigrant detention, reports of abuse, violence, unhygienic conditions, lack of health care, and rape and sexual abuse are rampant in detention centers all over the country.
Privately run facilities don’t have the same legal obligation to provide information about their facilities as federally run prisons do, so most of what happens behind closed doors is a mystery. But we know it’s bad. Detention centers hold nearly twice the number of inmates in solitary confinement as other federal facilities.3. Medical neglect is rampant and has contributed to many of the deaths of immigrants in DHS custody.4 Twelve people have died at a single Corrections Corporation of America facility, the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Conditions there prompted a call for a congressional investigation after a suspicious suicide last summer and there are multiple demands for investigation into four sexual assault cases where guards are accused of abusing detainees.5
Private prison corporations are making enormous profits off the suffering of immigrant people, and American tax dollars are paying for it. More than 173,000 CREDO activists took action, along with allies across the country, to raise a massive public outcry against abuse and corruption in the private prison system and force the DOJ to end its contracts. Now it’s time for DHS to follow the DOJ’s lead and stop contracting with private prison corporations.
Tell Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson: Stop contracting with private prisons.
Thanks for standing up for immigrant rights today.
- Julia Preston, "Judge Orders Release of Immigrant Children Detailed by the U.S.," The New York Times, July 25, 2015.
- Cristina Constantini, Jorge Rivas, "Shadow Prisons,", Fusion, February 4, 2015.
- "U.S. Death's in Immigration Detention," Human Rights Watch, July 7, 2015.
- Fernanda Echávarri, Marlon Bishop, Maria Hinojosa, "The Strange Death of Jose de Jesus," NPR’s Latino USA, July 22, 2016.