“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

Former GEO guard given jail time over sexual abuse

A former GEO Group prison guard has been given jail time after sexually abusing a prisoner, reports KSAT 12 out of San Antonio.

 Barbara Jean Goodwin was sentenced to five months in jail, followed by five months of home confinement. She will also serve a two-year supervised-release, and must register as a sex offender. She could have served up to 15 years in jail.

 Goodwin pleaded guilty in March, where testimony from her victim and other inmates said she forcibly performed oral sex on a prisoner over 30 times during a six month period.

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Immigration shuts down alternative to detention program for asylum seekers

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is shutting down a program designed as an alternative to detention for asylum, reports KristTV.

 The Family Case Management Program  was an alternative to detaining families in detention centers, two of which are located in Texas. There were 630 families enrolled as of April 19. The program connected asylum seeking families to social workers who helped participants find lawyers, get housing and healthcare, and helped them navigate the immigration court system. The women who are eligible for the program, or who were previously enrolled, can be expected to wear ankle monitors, which have been reported to cause bruising and ostracism.

 Ann Schlarb, an executive with the GEO Group, the private prison company that contracted with ICE operate the program, wrote that families in the program have thrived, and that 99% of families successfully attended court appearances and ICE check-ins. So why end such a successful program?

 When asked about shutting down the program, an ICE spokesperson said, "By discontinuing [family case management], ICE will save more than $12 million a year — money which can be utilized for other programs which more effectively allow ICE to discharge its enforcement and removal responsibilities."

 If money is the motivator, why close down a program that cost the government $36 a day compared to the cost of maintaining a family detention bed, which costs $319 a day? Alternatives to family detention that don’t subject people to wearing ankle monitors are real. They are successful and cost-effective.

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Family detention centers receive good reports—what did they miss?

Two South Texas family detention centers have received good marks from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Inspector General, reports the San Antonio Express.

 

The report was done in response to criticism by RAICES, a San Antonio non-profit that works with families in the two detention centers, and other groups who said sexual assaults inside  go unpunished and the detainees are treated poorly. Advocates said that the centers provide inadequate medical care, lack services for families who speak languages other than of Spanish, and that they hold children in jail-like conditions.

 

The report stated that medical care was readily available at the centers, though one of the facilities does not have a pediatrician. The report did not state which facility it was, though because both centers detain children, each should have a pediatrician available. It is questionable if health care is readily available, as there is currently a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stating they interfered with telemedicine procedures at the South Texas Detention Center in Dilley, Texas. Telemedicine is a way for prisoners to undergo medical evaluations on the phone.  

 

In September of last year, the Department of Justice was urged to look into violations of the American with Disabilities Act at the Karnes Detention Center when it was discovered that the school in the prison was inaccessible to students or others with mobility impairments. ICE also banned crayons after a detained child "destroyed property" by accidentally coloring on a table while their parent received legal advice.

 

This report comes six months after a DHS Advisory Committee recommended the end of DHS's policy on family detention.

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ICE interfering with medical evaluations

A lawsuit has been filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on behalf of immigrants detained at the Dilley family detention center, reports the San Antonio Express.

 

The lawsuit stated that a legal assistant with the Dilley Pro Bono Project was barred from meeting detainees at the detention center in Dilley, which is operated by CoreCivic, one of the nation’s largest private prison companies. The legal assistant had set up a telephonic medical evaluation without ICE's permission, after which they barred her from visiting.

 

ICE's policy required lawyers to get permission at least 24 hours in advance for medical evaluations. The lawsuit stated that policy interfered with the Pro Bono Project's ability to adequately represent their clients.

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