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America's Program covers rise of private immigrant detention system

Peter Cervantes-Gautschi at the America's Program ("Wall Street and the Criminalization of Immigrants," October 6) has an in-depth look at the way that criminalization of immigration is benefiting the private prison industry.  Here's an exceprt:

Over the past four years roughly a million immigrants have been incarcerated in dangerous detention facilities in our taxpayer-financed private prison system. A growing number of news reports and investigations confirm that for many of the people funneled into this system, it is a living nightmare. Children were abused, women were raped, and men died from lack of basic medical attention.

These facilities are run by two Wall Street-backed companies that actively promote the criminalization and incarceration of immigrants in the United States -the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.

The article also traces the rise of the well-connected private prison lobby in Washington:

GEO CEO, George Zoley, was a Bush “Pioneer” who bundled more than $100,000 in contributions for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004. In October 2003, GEO was successful in securing the contract to run the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

GEO hired the services of lobbyists who had held influential positions in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Prisons, Office of the Attorney General, and the office of then-Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell, to lobby their former employers and Congress. Throughout 2005 and leading up to the largest immigration raid in U.S. history in December 2006, GEO and CCA spent a combined total of over $6 million on lobbying efforts.

On May 1, 2006, while millions of people marched in favor of immigrant rights in 102 cities across the country, GEO and CCA were lobbying the federal government for more business. The marchers, despite their historic turnout and broad citizen base, could not block the growing wave of government support of GEO’s and CCA’s business plans.

And, the article covers the industry's ties to Arizona's harsh new immigraiton law:

The result of this shift in business focus is exemplified by CCA’s role in Arizona’s SB 1070 and both CCA’s and GEO’s roles in other legislative efforts aimed at dramatically increased numbers arrests of undocumented immigrants in over 20 states. Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer, who received substantial campaign financing from top CCA executives in Tennessee and employs two former CCA lobbyists Chuck Coughlin and Paul Sensman, as top aides, signed SB 1070 into law on April 23.

On Friday, July 30, 2010 the Republican Governors Association, which so far this year has received over $160,000 in contributions from CCA and GEO, and their respective lobbyists, sent out a nationwide solicitation written by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer requesting contributions to fund an appeal of the partial injunction issued by a judge against SB 1070.

In addition to funds raised by the partisan appeal, Brewer’s legal effort has been bolstered by supporting briefs filed with the appeals court by three states– Florida, Texas and Virginia–that have contracts with GEO or with both GEO and CCA. The two prison companies are currently ramping up their political involvement in these states and in several others that have anti-immigrant bills moving through their respective legislatures. In all, twenty states are considering SB 1070-inspired bills, which have been endorsed by their respective Republican gubernatorial candidates, financed in large part by the Republican Governor’s Association.

The entire article is worth a read.  Check it out here.


I find it funny how we talk about prisons being bad and unsuitable for prisoners and what-not.

Well, if they would try and come to America legally instead of illegally then this wouldn't be an issue. You have to remember, I'd have to say that about 99% of all illegals don't have a steady supply of food, water, dental, or medical. Being locked up they have all this GUARANTEED! Our tax dollars paying for illegals and criminals to live in a better environment. Three meals a day, shower and restroom as they please, clothing, bedding, a place to sleep, and access to FREE medical and FREE dental. Doesn't sound too bad to me.

To be honest, if i had a chance to sleep with a woman every now and then, I wouldn't mind being locked up in jail for the rest of my life. No responsibilities, no worries, no nothing, and everything i need to survive is ALL paid for at NO expense to me, but rather to America who would rather take better care of criminals in the jail system, rather than its own people who actually work hard on a day to day basis struggling just to make ends meet. Now THAT is messed up.

Get this, I work for GEO, i was once a correctional officer, now i work up in admin in the field i went to college for, and it is GREAT! This facility is awesome, and this company is great. Just because there's a few bad apples every now and then doesn't mean EVERY SINGLE apple is bad. That's the misconception that everyone gets. Just because one bad thing happens at one facility, now all of a sudden the entire company and ALL of their sites are bad.