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March 2017

Guard at San Antonio detention center admits to sexually assaulting inmate

A guard from a private prison in San Antonio pled guilty to sexually abusing a prisoner, reports the San Antonio Current.

Barbara Jean Goodwin was a guard at the Central Texas Detention Facility, a private prison for immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. The detention center is operated by for-profit company GEO Group. Testimony from her victim and other detainees stated she forcibly performed oral sex on a prisoner over 30 times over a six month period. Goodwin now faces up to 15 years in federal prison.

Private prisons already booming under President Trump

Private prisons are already booming under President Trump, reports The Week.

Last August, the Department of Justice announced it would would begin the process of phasing out the use of private prisons, due to serious concerns over safety and treatment of inmates in private prisons, as well as a declining prison population. This decision was celebrated by activists against private prisons, and saw stocks plummet for major for-profit companies such as CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and GEO Group.   

Fast forward a few months, and things have changed. President, Donald Trump, has put a major focus on “law and order,” especially when it comes to detaining undocumented immigrants. New Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the original DOJ memo and told the Bureau of Prisons to once again rely on private prisons. This led to an increase in private prison stock.

Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws

Thousands of immigrants detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities have joined a class-action lawsuit over being forced to work for $1 a day or less, reports the Washington Post.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2014 is against the GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison company that operates many for-profit detention centers for immigrants.. The case originally started with nine plaintiffs, who claim that detainees are forced to work without pay — and if they don't they are threatened with solitary confinement. The case has now been upgraded to a class-action lawsuit, which could potentially involve thousands of immigrants who were forced to work in GEO facilities. This is the first time that a class-action lawsuit has been brought against a private prison company, and could have major ramifications depending on the outcome.

The GEO Group operates over 20 facilities in the state of Texas.  For-profit prison companies are focused on keeping costs down and using detainee labor is one way to do that. Detainees work in the kitchens, keep the facility clean, and help maintain the facility.  

Immigrants are held in federal detention while they wait to see an immigration judge.

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Young mother with brain tumor to be released by ICE

A young mother with a brain tumor is set to be released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to a press release from Amnesty International.

As we previously reported, Sara Beltran Hernandez was picked up by ICE at a Texas hospital, where doctors had told Beltran Hernandez that she had a brain tumor. Officials from ICE said that she was stable and  that her doctors were voluntarily releasing her into their custody. They then took her to the Praireland Detention Center, a private immigrant detention facility operated by the for-profit prison company Emerald Corrections.

Following a mobilization and campaign by Amnesty International, ICE released Beltran Hernandez. She will be permitted to live with her family in New York as she receives treatment for her brain tumor and her asylum case move forward. Eric Ferrero, of Amnesty International USA, said, "Sara and her family are overjoyed that she will finally be able to be with her loved ones and receive medical care after being unjustly detained for over 400 days."  

 

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ICE closing Haskell County Detention Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is moving detainees from the Rolling Plains Jail and Detention, causing the facility to close, reports KTAB/KRBC in Abilene.

The detention center, located in Haskell County, is a private prison for immigrants operated by corrections sector of Emerald Companies. ICE said they were “not happy with the current management company,” and so they will be moving detainees over the next to weeks to a new facility. The facility to which they are moving inmates is located in Alvarado Texas, where Emerald operates another detention facility, the Praireland Detention Center.  

County Judge David Davis assured residents in a press release that ICE had not pulled the contract with the Rolling Plains Jail and Detention center. He told residents that ICE still needed beds and if the county could find a new operator, ICE would continue to contract with the facility. While they look for a new operator, county officials are working with other counties to house prisoners from the Haskell County Jail, which is located inside the detention facility.

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