“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

GEO faces lawsuits over Justice Department's plan to end private-prisons

GEO Group, a private-prison corporation, faces lawsuits after the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to end the use of private-prisons, reported the Sun Sentinel. 

Multiple shareholders lawsuits have been filed against GEO Group, alleging violations of securities laws. The lawsuits are are on behalf of investors who purchased stock between March 2012 and August 12th of the same year. These lawsuits are the newest of a growing list of shareholders who allege that GEO made false or misleading statements and failed to disclose that GEO's facilities lacked proper security and safety standards and that they were less efficient than Bureau of Prison run facilities. The lawsuits also claim that GEO did not inform shareholders that the DOJ was unlikely to renew private-prison contracts. 

 

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Federal Judge bans ICE detainers on immigrants

Public News Service reported that a federal judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to stop requesting that certain inmates who are up for release be detained longer to determine their immigration status.

This ruling adds more intensity to the debate in Texas and other states over so-called 'sanctuary cities', in which local officials have no connection with ICE, therefore creating a safe space for undocumented immigrants. The order bars ICE from requesting that local jails detain possible deportable individuals for 48 hours, when they would otherwise be able to leave, in order to check their immigration status. Immigration advocates have long said that ICE detainers are illegal and used to detain people stopped for minor offenses. 

Bob Libel, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said "In Dallas County, the sheriff said she wouldn't be honoring some detainers, and in Houston, there's been a very active campaign to try to convince elected officials there to end detainers." He then said ""We do believe that there seems to be growing momentum against these things."

ICE officials were reached for a comment but declined to respond. 

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Senators press Department of Homeland Security to stop family detention

A group of 17 Democratic senators called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to end the practice of family detention, as reported by Mother Jones.

The group of senators, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine, sent a letter to Sec. Johnson saying family detention is "wrong" and "should be ended immediately." They cited research showing how prolonged confinement can hurt children's physical and mental health. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has taken a similar position as her running mate, and called for an end to family detention.

There are currently three family detention centers in the United States, one in Pennsylvania and  two in Texas. These centers have a history of poor medical care, lack of legal access, and sexual assault.

 

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Limestone County Detention Center to reopen for 17-year-olds from Harris County

The Limestone County Detention Center is to reopen after being closed for three years, reported 10 KWTX

This summer Limestone County signed a new contract with LaSalle Southwest Corrections, a privately owned prison corporation, to run the detention facility. The warden, Charles Vondra, said that the detention center will be used to detain 17-year-olds from Harris County, with a beginning population of about 130. The warden then said the population should grow to 650 inmates. 

Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said the facility has not been used in over three years. Until May 2013, the facility was run by Community Education Centers (CEC), another private prison corporation. CEC pulled out after they lost their contract with the federal government to detain inmates, but county officials had hoped that another private corporation, Management Training Corporation (MTC) would continue to operate and pay rent on the facility. However, after two months of operation, MTC announced that it was closing the center after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they would no longer be sending immigrants detained at the border to the center. ICE instead decided to return them to their home countries. 

The county hopes that reopening the detention center will boost the local economy as well as create new jobs for the area. 

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