“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

Welcoming new Texas Prison Bid'ness blogger, Jake Crowther

Jake Crowther is the Young Adult Volunteer at Grassroots Leadership and our newest Texas Prison Bid'ness blogger. Originally from Clemson South Carolina, Jake studied Spanish and International Health at Clemson University. During this time, he gained a great appreciation for community development, and the desire to work with individuals who have been marginalized by our society. While at Clemson, he began to explore and learn more of the pain and issues that U.S. policy had caused both in Latin America and among Latino communities in the U.S.

Before coming to Austin, Jake spent a year interning in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. While living on the border, he worked with Frontera de Cristo, a bi-national border ministry.  Their hope is to educate people about U.S. border/immigration policy, its impacts, and the many ways that we can respond to help those directly impacted by these policies. While there, Jake delved deeper into the connection between a broken immigration system and the private prison industry. 

He comes to Grassroots hoping to continue his education, so that he may go out and let others know about these systems that are focusing on making a profit off of human beings. He also hopes to be able to learn ways to use direct action as a mode of helping others wake up and become aware of the issues that are happening in our own backyard.

Stay tuned for more updates from Jake. 

Dept. of Justice urged to investigate ADA violations in Karnes family detention center


Grassroots Leadership reports that an Austin-based immigration attorney has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate why the school inside of the Karnes Family Detention Center is inaccessible to students or others with mobility impairments.

In a September 19 press release, Grassroots Leadership writes:

"Attorney Virginia Raymond, in a September 17 letter to the DOJ Civil Rights Division, described how one of her child clients, who had broken her leg while in detention and uses crutches, was unable to attend the charter school at the Karnes facility due to it being on the second story. There is no elevator at the for-profit detention facility.

The letter goes on to explain that the charter school for the children detained in the facility has been operated by the John H. Wood, Jr. Public Charter School District, but it is unclear if the company still operates it.

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Advocates and County Judge at Odds Over New Detention Center

Duval County officials are still pushing for a new family detention center despite immigrant rights advocates and others saying that the centers have many problems, according to Public Radio International (PRI).

As we reported earlier, Duval County Judge Ricardo Carrillo submitted a proposal in July for a new family detention center in San Diego, hoping that the new facility will bring economic opportunities to the county. However, advocates and former employees of Karnes County Residential Facility, have different opinions on the matter.

Dr. Olivia Lopez, a former social worker at Karnes and whistleblower who exposed what she called “torture” inside, said that the environment at the detention center created high levels of anxiety for both the mothers and their children. "They were being lorded over at all times with the threat of removal of children or deportation all the time," Lopez said.

Immigrant rights advocates are also concerned about the detention center being run by Serco, a private UK-based corporation, which has been accused of abusive practices in their detention centers in both Britain and Australia. Justin Tullius, the managing attorney with RAICES at Corpus Christi, said "we're continuing our campaign to raise awareness about family detention, as it already exists in Karnes and Dilley. And to let them know that that's what it would look like here."

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Five Private Prisons in Texas to Lose Contracts

Five private prisons in Texas will lose their contracts following the Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement to phase out the use of private prisons, according to The Texas Tribune.


The announcement came after the inspector general of the DOJ recently concluded in a report that federal prisons operated by private companies have greater issues with contraband and inmate discipline than those run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The office noted that "In recent years, disturbances in several federal contract prisons resulted in extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a correctional officer."

Multiple incidents in Texas were among those driving the DOJ decision.

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