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Big Stories of 2011 - #2 - Resistance to Private Immigrant Detention Centers Grows

Over the next several days, Texas Prison Bid'ness will be highlighting the top five private prison stories of 2011, and looking forward to the new year.   Our #2 story is the growing resistance amongst immigrant rights organizations and media to the for-profit private detention system.

In October of 2010, NPR reported that through its membership in ALEC, private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America was able to help draft model anti-immigrant legislation like Arizona's noxious SB 1070.  The story would be a precursor to a host of organizing efforts, research initiatives, and media campaigns by immigrant rights groups around the country to expose the private prison industry's role in immigration detention policy.  Here are some of the highlights:

1) In May, the Detention Watch Network (with the support of Grassroots Leadership, my organization) published data outlining that 47% of all immigration detention beds are operated by private prison corporations and that CCA and GEO Group have poured millions of dollars into federal lobbying expenditures over the last several years.

2) Enlace, an international coalition of worker and migrant organizations, launched a national prison divestment campaign with allies across the country.  The campaign got an immediate boost when Pershing Square head Bill Ackman dumped his company's stocks in the Corrections Corporation of America.  Since then, the movement has taken off with protests in front of GEO-investor Wells Fargo in around the country including here in Austin with actions taken by the Texans United for Families coalition.

3) Perhaps the most visually inspiring campaign has been the series of "Immigrants for Sale" videos produced by Cuentame and the Brave New Foundation.  This series highlights the role of the private prison industry in benefiting from and propelling the growth of immigration detention.  Check out the first video for an overview of what was to come:

 

Here's hoping for a 2012 filled with similar kinds of creative protests of the private prison industry.

 

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