“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

Deaths in immigrant detention centers are on pace to double from last year

According to the Daily Beast, individuals locked up in immigrant detention facilities are on pace to die at a rate twice as high as last year.

The Daily Beast was able to obtain records from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the government agency that runs the sprawling immigrant detention system. Since the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year, which began in October of 2016, eight individuals have died in ICE custody. Most recently this includes Jean Jimenez-Joseph, who hung himself in his jail cell, and Atulkumar Babubhai Patel, who died of congestive heart failure.

According to the Daily Beast, the number of deaths (eight) in fiscal year 2017 is almost equal to the number in fiscal year 2016 (10), and is on track to double that number. All but one of the deaths this year took place in privately run facilities. Last year, all but two of the deaths occurred in private facilities.

Another issue is the possibilities of prisoners in these facilities committing suicide. Earlier this month, a woman detained at the Karnes Family Residential Center attempted suicide. In a low moment, she believed that her death would allow her children, who are also detained, to be released as they cannot be in the facility without a parent or guardian.

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Private prison's scheme to license baby jails fails in Texas

Karnes County Civil Detention Center
A proposal written by a private prison company to license baby jails as child care facilities has failed, according to a press release from Grassroots Leadership.

The federal government is looking to increase private prison beds

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking to increase the number of beds prisons, reports CNN.

In April, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) issued a notice stating they were looking to increase the number of beds in Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) facilities. These facilities are operated by private prison companies and are used to incarcerate non-citizen immigrants who are mostly convicted of low-level drug offenses or civil immigration offenses. In the U.S. there are 11 such facilities, operated by three private companies: CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), the GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation. The addition of over 1,500 beds would take the overall population of immigrants in CAR prisons to over 22,000.

This shift is the opposite of what the Obama administration planned for the future of these federal prisons. Last August, then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates released a memo stating that the DOJ would begin to phase out the use of private prisons in the federal prison system. The original goal from the Obama administration was to reduce 7,000 beds by May 1st. That memo and plan was overturned by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who rescinded Yates’ previous memo.

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State Senator accused of accepting bribes from private companies

Federal prosecutors have indicted state Sen. Carlos Uresti for accepting bribes from a private prison medical contractor, reports the San Antonio Current.

Federal prosecutors revealed last week that the senator had been involved in a lawsuit against the Reeves County Detention Center following the death of Jesus Manuel Galindo. When Galindo was first detained in the facility, he told prison staff that he had a history of epileptic seizures. He complained about not receiving his medication and ended up in solitary confinement. He begged to guards to not put him into solitary in case of another seizure. The ACLU, which sued on behalf of Galindo's family, listed Physicians Network Associates (PNA) as a defendant. PNA was the private medical company that the detention center had contracted with to provide their medical care.

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