“What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons.” -- Molly Ivins, 2003

CoreCivic Reports Lower Revenue from Texas facilities

CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) announced its Quarter 3 earnings in November including lower revenue compared to this quarter last year. “Total revenue in the third quarter of 2017 was $442.8 million compared to $474.9 million in the third quarter of 2016,” the company reported to NASDAQ.

While CoreCivic won new contracts in Tennessee and Arizona, its revenue was reduced by changes in contracts with Texas facilities. Effective November 2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) amended and extended its contract with CoreCivic to operate the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), the nation’s largest immigrant detention center. The changes in the contract “resulted in a reduction of revenue to $28.7 million” compared to the third quarter in 2016.

CoreCivic also lost revenue in Texas following the expiration of contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Eden Detention Center that closed earlier this year.

The company states it is continuing to “diversify” its revenue stream as it gains new contracts for reentry facilities, such as the Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth Transitional Centers. Earnings are expected to increase as more detention facilities are solicited by the Trump administration.

Image from Flickr

Blogging Categories: 

Laura Monterrosa Courageously Speaks Out Against Sexual Abuse in Hutto

Image from Grassroots Leadership

On November 9, 23-year-old Salvadoran asylum seeker Laura Monterrosa spoke out about the sexual abuse she has experienced since June while she has been detained at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, operated by private prison corporation CoreCivic (formerly called Corrections Corporation of America). The Independent reported on Monterrosa’s story on November 7 following advocacy by Grassroots Leadership.

In her letter, Laura writes how a female guard forced her into sexual acts against her will:

“She harassed me, telling me threatening words and forcing me to have unwanted relations with her. She looked for or took advantage of every moment she could to touch my breasts or my legs, she knew where and when she did it, I don't remember dates because there are many. She worked in the recreation area and what she did with me she did with other residents.”

Monterrosa spoke out publicly on November 9 following several media articles. Since then, she reports that she has experienced retaliation from within the detention center.  She remains  detained while her abuser continues to be employed at the facility by CoreCivic. “In this place, we don’t have rights, only duties," she said in a letter to Grassroots Leadership.

Two women joined Monterrosa in denouncing sexual abuse they experienced while detained at Hutto on November 22. One woman, ‘Ana,’ was transferred to another private detention center in Laredo after filing her formal complaint.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Rewire on November 22 that the agency conducted an investigation in collaboration with Williamson County, where Hutto is located, and found Monterrosa’s claims “unsubstantiated.” Williamson County has remained silent on the issue.

The T. Don Hutto Detention Center, which detains 512 women, nearly all of whom are seeking asylum, has been at the center of sexual assault scandals before — one former guard served time for multiple assaults.

From 2010 to 2016, out of approximately 33,000 complaints of physical and sexual abuse filed across the country with the DHS Office of Inspector General, less than 1 percent were actually investigated according to the national detention visitation program CIVIC.

#FreeFelipe: DACA Recipient with Disability Bullied in Detention

Felipe Abonza-Lopez, a 20-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient with a medical disability, captured media attention in November after he was detained for over a month. The Huffington Post reported that Abonza-Lopez was arrested while riding in a car with undocumented family members after it was reported as a “suspicious vehicle” on October 12. Following his arrest, Abonza-Lopez was detained in South Texas Detention Complex operated by private prison corporation GEO Group in Pearsall, Texas.

The #FreeFelipe campaign lifted up Abonza-Lopez’s suffering in detention where he reported that was mocked by private prison staff for his prosthetic leg. He experienced pain in his leg and went to a medical clinic to ask for help. “The medical worker and a guard joked about his leg in English, acting as if he did not understand,” Huffington Post reported.

The article included a letter from Abonza-Lopez (below), which included the following details:

  • A GEO Group guard stated he could “put a broomstick in his leg and he can use [it to] sweep”

  • A clinic worker gave him a pill for leg pain and no other care

  • Abonza-Lopez fears bullying from the private prison staff, and worries that someone could steal his leg while he is asleep

“Please get me out of here. I do not deserve to be treated so inhumanely,” Abonza-Lopez wrote. He is among a rising number of DACA recipients who have been detained under the Trump administration.

“We know that ICE will try to detain and deport people who have DACA so long as no one is paying attention to it,” said Amy Fischer, policy director with RAICES. “There have been a handful of other instances in Texas of DACA holders being detained and then released after public pressure,” Fischer continued, pointing to the urgent need for protection of Dreamers and their parents at risk of detention and deportation.

Photo from Twitter

Blogging Categories: 

Immigrant prison in Texas making kids sick, Human Rights group calls for end to family detention

Image from Flickr

In a blog published on November 22, Human Rights First reported prevalent medical neglect in South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas operated by private prison corporation CoreCivic. The blog highlights the multiple medical issues that children and their parents experience with minimal access to services while in detention, as well as long-term health consequences to their incarceration.

Eleni Bakst spent a week visiting children and speaking with their parents in Dilley. “I learned that many of these children were also vomiting and experiencing diarrhea multiple times per day, had high fevers, and conjunctivitis,” she wrote. “Others had developed rashes as a result of drinking the tap water, which has reportedly been contaminated due to fracking in the area. Many local residents and visitors do not drink it.”

Bakst reported numerous women’s complaints about the negligent medical care in detention, including doctors “prescribing water instead of medicine” and “illogical and incorrect diagnoses” when patients came with illnesses. Women also reported their fear to report a complaint about the insufficient care in fear of negative consequences for their legal cases.

Bakst reported one story that exemplifies the unreasonable responses of medical professionals in detention:

“One mother told me her four-year-old daughter had lost eight pounds in detention over the last two to three weeks as a result of persistent vomiting and diarrhea, combined with high fever, rashes, and coughing. The clinician at the detention center diagnosed her vomiting as bulimia, claiming that this was common among young children at the center who are not accustomed to eating the type of food they provided. This girl’s mother, understandably taken aback by this diagnosis, did not return to the clinic, knowing that it would be futile.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a letter to the former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in 2015 stating that family detention of mothers and children “puts them at greater risk for physical and mental health problems and unnecessarily exposes children and mothers to additional psychological trauma.”

The recent actions of the Trump administration to terminate the Flores Settlement could open up the potential for long-term detention of families, making medical issues “more concerning than ever” from the conditions reported by Human Rights First.

Building on research from previous years, the report issued by Human Rights First in November 2015, “Family Detention Still Happening, Still Damaging,” features research on the experiences of women and children in detention. Their investigation highlighted the stories of 30 women in South Texas Family Residential Center detained with their families: “All of these mothers reported some combination of troubling symptoms, including high levels of hypervigilance, sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and insomnia. A majority presented with symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder, and Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia).”

Advocates have denounced family detention as an inhumane practice that profits from the violation of families’ rights. In Texas, a long legislative battle of 2016 led to advocates preventing the licensing of family detention centers as child care facilities. They have been criticized for violating federal law by holding families too long, among a number of other failures to provide adequate education, health care, and legal services.

For further information on medical neglect in South Texas Family Residential Center impacting pregnant women, see our blog from October 2017: “Pregnant Women Seeking Asylum Detained, Women Miscarried in ICE Facilities” and more Texas Prison Bid’ness coverage of Dilley.

Blogging Categories: 

Pages

Subscribe to Texas Prison Bid'ness RSS