Private Prisons, ICE and Correctional Facilities

Prisons for Profit: 18 Months in the Life of the Nation’s First Prison Sold for Profit
What happens when prisoners become dollar signs? Watch “Prisons for Profit,” a short documentary chronicling the first 18 months in the life of the nation’s first state prison sold to a for-profit corporation.

How Do Private Prisons Make Money?
Private prisons are big business in the USA.
No other country in the world has more people in prison than in the United States. According to the World Prison Population List (11th edition), there were a few more than 10 million people in prisons worldwide in 2015. Even though the United States has just 4 percent of the world’s population, its prisoners made up over 20 percent of that total, nearly 2.3 million American adults in jail.
The US also has more detainees in private prisons than any other country in the world. The vast majority of inmates, about 91 percent in American prisons are in public prisons, but 9 percent of American prisoners, 180,000 people, are in for-profit incarceration facilities for crimes ranging from making threats against public officials and drug possession to grand theft auto and multiple murders.
Private prisons don’t operate in every state. Some states like California ban them altogether (although ICE still puts detainees in privately run facilities in California).

Private prisons took in about $80 billion a year before ICE started placing children in immigrant detention at a rate of up to $775 a day. The truth is, we don’t know how much private prisons were earning before 2020, and we may not know how much private prisons are actually earning for some time. But it’s substantially over $80 billion a year, and the biggest profits aren’t even from operating the prisons.

Small towns all over the United States that have tried to cash in on prison real estate by building prisons on spec. Not many have succeeded. But $1.9 billion a year Corrections Corporation of America (now Core Civic) has offered a solution for planning mistakes. In 2012, the company made offers to forty-eight cash-strapped states offering to buy their prisons. In return, the company would provide inmate housing and services for 20 years at a contracted rate, as long as the states kept the prisons 90 percent full. Just keep putting people in prison, and we will bail you out of bad deals.

Most companies that operate private prisons don’t depend on real estate deals to make their money. Their operating model is finding ways to house, feed, guard, and sometimes rehabilitate prisoners at a lower cost than a state or county or the federal government would have to pay.

The State of California spends an average of $64,642 per prisoner to maintain its 132,992 incarcerated. If a private corporation offers to take over prison for less than $64,642 per prisoner, the State of California could come out ahead on its budget.

Some private incarceration facilities are paid much, more than the average to house prisoners. The fiscal year 2018 for  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called for expenditures of $133.99 a day (equivalent to $48,439 per year) to house each adult prisoner. Housing “family units,” typically mothers and children, costs $319 per day, or $116,515 per year. And a bed in the “tent cities” for unaccompanied minor children costs $750 per night or $273,978 per year. Immigrant detention is where private prisons currently make their big bucks. But there are other ways for private prisons to make money.

Private Prisons Make Money From Prison Labor

Prisoners are less expensive than workers in offshore call centers. There have even been credit card companies that contracted call center work to private prisons. Cisco, NetApp, Hitachi, and SAP have used prisoners to make cold calls to sell multi-million dollar software systems. Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy has used prisoners to run its goat farms and dairies to make fine chevre (goat cheese) that is sold at Whole Foods. And many cities and counties contract with private prisons to find the labor to mow roadsides, maintain streets, and take care of trash collection,

Prisoners are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, so there is no minimum wage for prison labor. Prisoners in state prisons receive an average of 20 cents per hour and prisoners in federal prisons receive an average of 31 cents an hour, although some prisoners in favored states, such as Colorado, earn as much as $4 a day. (The prisoners who sold computer systems made by Cisco, NetApp, Hitachi, and SAP had a bonus system that allowed them to save up to $8,000 to have ready when they were released.)

Q. Who owns private prisons?

A. Most private prisons are owned by towns and cities, economic development associations set up by towns and cities, and by private corporations. Just two companies, Core Civic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America or CCA) and The GEO Group, control about 88 percent of private prisons in the United States.

For-Profit Prisons: Eight Statistics That Show the Problems

As private prisons become the norm in the United States, it’s time society takes a look at the institution and asks, “Are prisons really being used as rehabilitation/deterrence for crime, or have private interests started attaching price tags to lawbreakers’ heads and exploited their incarceration for profit?”

Here are several key statistics that paint an ugly, troubling picture of the for-profit prison system in America

500% Increase

The biggest private prison owner in America, The Corrections Corporation of America, has seen its profits increase by more than 500% in the past 20 years. Moreover, the business’ growth shows no sign of stopping, having already approached 48 states to take over government-run prisons.

10-60 Pounds Lighter

One way for-profit prisons to minimize costs is by skimping on provisions, including food. A psychiatrist who investigated a privately run prison in Mississippi found that the inmates were severely underfed and looked “almost emaciated.” During their incarceration, prisoners dropped anywhere from 10 to 60 pounds.


100% of all military helmets, ID tags, bullet-proof vests and canteens are created in federal prison systems through prison labor. Though prisoners are “generously” compensated cents per hour, it’s clear having this inexpensive, exploited labor force is critical to the military industrial complex. I bet that the irony that mostly non-violent offenders are making war gear for others to perpetuate violence abroad without consequence is not lost on many of the inmates.

90% Occupancy

States sign agreements with private prisons to guarantee that they will fill a certain number of beds in jail at any given point. The most common rate is 90%, though some prisons are able to snag a 100% promise from their local governments. Because of these contracts, the state is obligated to keep prisons almost full at all times or pay for the beds anyway, so the incentive is to incarcerate more people and for longer in order to fill the quota.


One in every four people that is incarcerated worldwide is held captive in a United States jail. How is it that a country with only 5% of the world’s population has 25% of all the inmates? Simple: prisoners are source of revenue for private companies, so the demand for incarcerating them is especially high.

11 Times

Violent crimes are down overall, so how does the United States keep prisons stocked instead? Amplifying the war on drugs: there are now 11 times as many people in jail for drug convictions than there were in 1980, constituting 50% of the prison population. Longer mandatory minimum sentences also keeps the inmates in longer. Most people incarcerated for drug charges are non-violent, have no prior record, and are addicts rather than major drug-traffickers.


Nearly half of all detained immigrants are held in privately owned facilities. The fact that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has stepped up its game to detain more undocumented immigrants – about 400,000 each year – has actually increased the need for private systems as most detainees will linger in the system waiting for court dates for months if not years.

Civil rights groups have deemed the quality of care provided in immigrant detention centers unacceptable, particularly because of the large numbers of preventable fatalities and sexual assaults.

$45 million

The three largest for-profit prison corporations have spent more than $45 million on campaign donations and lobbyists to keep politicians on the side of privatized incarceration. In light of all of their ethical violations, it’s obvious that they have to offer some incentive for keeping their business legal.

Why For-Profit Prisons House More Inmates Of Color

In the nine states Petrella examined, private facilities housed higher percentages of people of color than public facilities did. Looking back at the contracts the private companies signed with the states, Petrella figured out the reason behind the racial disparity: private prisons deliberately exclude people with high medical care costs from their contracts.

Younger, healthier inmates, he found — who’ve come into the system since the war on drugs went into effect — are disproportionately people of color. Older inmates, who generally come with a slew of health problems, skew more white.

Steve Owens, senior director of public affairs for Corrections Corp. of America, one of the largest private prison companies in the nation, calls the study “deeply flawed.”

In an email, Owens says, “CCA’s government partners determine which inmates are sent to our facilities; our company has no role in their selection.”

Furthermore, he says, “the contracts we have with our government partners are mutually agreed upon, and as the customer, our government partners have significant leverage regarding provisions.” It’s up to the contracting agency, he says, to decide how it wants to distribute inmates and manage health care costs.

Owens does not, however, dispute Petrella’s numbers.

Gloria Browne-Marshall, an associate professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former civil rights attorney, says it’s a “very interesting” study.

“What I take away from it is how prisoners are looked at as commodities,” she says. “It’s all about how the private prisons can make the most money.”

The Gates Foundation Is Filling Its Coffers With Profits From Private Prisons

Serco was fined £19.2m this year for fraud and false accounting attributed to its electronic tagging system for criminals. There have also reportedly been at least 34 reports of sexual assault at Serco immigration detention facilities from 2009 through 2013. And in 2015, documents obtained by the Guardian indicated that the company was lobbying US lawmakers and officials to establish contracts to detain migrant families in the US.

Are for-profit prisons more dangerous than traditional prisons?

From alleged mistreatment of prisoners to questionable lobbying intentions, private prisons have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons lately. And as a growing number of U.S. inmates are being jailed in private prisons — the number of inmates in private facilities increased by 37 percent between 2002 and 2009 — it’s more important than ever to examine the policies and practices carried out in these intuitions.

Consider the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), a private prison housing mentally ill prisoners near Meridian, Miss. The prison recently made national news after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections — which outsources prison duties to the EMCF — for allowing the prison to operate under allegedly “barbaric”, “hyper-violent” and “grotesquely filthy and dangerous” conditions, including rat-infested cells, non-working toilets, and a lack of access to mental health services.

In addition to EMCF being a “cesspool”, the lawsuit also alleges that its prisoners are being severely underfed. “All inmates report significant weight loss since arriving at EMCF, from ten to 60 pounds,” said physiatrist Terry A. Kupers, who studied the facility in 2011 on behalf of the ACLU. “From my direct observation it is clear that all the men are much thinner, almost emaciated, in comparison to old snapshots I viewed in their charts or on their identity cards showing them much heavier.

The answer is relatively simple. As bad as state-run prisons can be, private prisons ultimately pose a greater threat to inmates because of their raison d’être; they exist solely to make a profit off of incarcerated individuals.

Like pretty much all other for-profit enterprises, private prisons make money in part by cutting operating costs wherever possible. In most industries, this can be done by reducing employee hours or buying goods wholesale or any number of other strategies. But when it comes to housing inmates, cutting costs is done in a variety of troubling ways. In the case of the EMCF, the lawsuit alleges the facility offered inmates a Spartan diet, grossly reduced access to health care, and essentially eliminated mental health services — in a facility specifically for patients with mental illness.

Other ways private prisons cut costs are by understaffing guards and other prison employees, leading to increasingly dangerous conditions for both guards and inmates. An unfortunate example: The 2004 riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility (operated by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America) in Olney Springs, Colo. What started as a fight between two rival prison gangs quickly morphed into a prison-wide riot in which the inadequately staffed guards quickly lost control. After state law enforcement officials quelled the riot, the Colorado Department of Corrections issued a report blaming the riot on the private prison’s high staff turnover rate and inadequate staffing.

But perhaps the greatest threat private prisons pose to inmates is their constant need for inmates. While overall crime — especially violent crime — has rapidly declined in recent years, the U.S. incarcerates more individuals than ever. This is great news for the private prison industry. With private prisons receiving upwards of $200 per inmate per night, the more beds occupied, the more revenue.

Of course, the private prison industry doesn’t like to frame it this way. The Correctional Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country — claims its motivations are to rehabilitate prisoners, increase public safety, create jobs, and save taxpayers money. Nowhere do they mention that seeking profits for themselves and their shareholders is part of their business plan.

Where things get tricky is the majority of incarcerated individuals in U.S. prisons are non-violent offenders either serving drug sentences or having been arrested for their immigration statuses. While possession of illegal substances and an undocumented immigration status have long been illegal under U.S. law, the kinds of harsh sentences today’s offenders receive are a relatively new phenomenon, tracing back to the anti-drug hysteria of the 1980s and the creation of programs such as the Department of Homeland Security’s “Operation Streamline,” which have both contributed to a 790 percent increase in prison sentences in the last three decades.

So far, the private prison industry has spent $45 million in lobbying to keep these kinds of harsh sentencing laws in place, reports the Associated Press. And the industry freely admits that without these laws, private prisons would no longer be profitable: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws,” said a Corrections Corporation of America 2010 Annual Report. “Any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

Lawsuit accuses MDOC guards of having sex with juveniles, allowing them to be raped

The class-action lawsuit is filed on behalf of more than 500 children — between ages 14 and 17 — who have entered adult prisons since 2010, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states the young prisoners who are, were or will be in adult prisons in Michigan have been, or will be, subjected to sexual and physical assaults, abuse, sexual harassment, degrading treatment because they haven’t been housed, supervised or separated from adults adequately.

The 32-page document details some disturbing incidents each of the seven plaintiffs has had to endure while in prison. All seven plaintiffs report sexual assaults, with many reporting violent rapes, of which MDOC staff members were aware.

At least two plaintiffs allege they were coerced into sex with female MDOC officers.

“From late 2012 until early 2013, a female MDOC staff member repeatedly opened John Doe 4’s cell for purposes of engaging in coerced sexual intercourse with him,” the lawsuit states.

In the case of John Doe 2, the lawsuit alleges an MDOC staff member opened the prisoner’s cell to allow an adult prisoner to assault him. That same prisoner was put into solitary confinement for reporting sexual abuse.

“Upon his release from solitary confinement, John Doe 2 was physically assaulted again with a knife,” the lawsuit states, “resulting in a scar across the face and marking him as a victim and as an ongoing target for other prisoners.”

The lawsuit accuses the MDOC of four different violations of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act: Creating a sexually hostile prison atmosphere, failing to prevent and to remedy a sexually hostile prison environment, aiding and abetting violations of ELCRA and age discrimination.

“One youth was told that if he was asked about being raped or harmed, he ‘better not say a word,’” the motion stated.

ICE Signs New For-Profit Detention Contracts Days Before California’s Ban Begins

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has signed new long-term contracts with three private prison companies to operate — and expand — immigration detention in California. The deals, which were published on a federal procurement website late Friday evening, come just days before a new state law takes effect, outlawing for-profit prisons and immigration detention facilities.

The ICE contracts total $6.5 billion and extend for as long as 15 years, much longer than typical immigration detention agreements. The three companies currently run four California detention centers for ICE, with a combined total of roughly 5,200 beds.

The full text of the new contracts was not publicly accessible, but here’s what we know. ICE entered into deals for “security guards and patrol services” as follows:

    $679 million with Management & Training Corp., for a facility in Calexico, where the company currently operates the Imperial Regional Detention Center;
    $2.1 billion with Core Civic, Inc., for a facility in San Diego, where the company currently operates the Otay Mesa Detention Center;
    $2.1 billion with GEO Group, Inc., for a facility in Adelanto (San Bernardino County), where the company currently operates the Adelanto ICE Processing Center;
    $1.6 billion with GEO Group, Inc., for a facility in Bakersfield, where the company currently operates the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center.

In addition, GEO Group’s contracts incorporate the use of three other California prisons it owns, according to a press release the company issued Monday announcing its contracts. Those facilities — two in the Central Valley town of McFarland and another in Adelanto — will add an additional 2,150 beds “as facility annexes,” the statement said.

“We’re pleased to have been able to build on our long-standing partnership with ICE to help the agency meet its need for processing center beds in California, which comply with the Federal government’s performance-based national detention standards,” said George C. Zoley, GEO’s chairman and CEO, according to the press statement.

The company said it expects the contracts to generate more than $200 million a year in revenue and support more than 1,200 jobs.

News of the contracts come just days before a new state law takes effect, aimed at phasing out for-profit prisons and detention centers, federal authorities could enter into multi-million dollar contracts with private companies to continue jailing thousands of immigrants in California.

“These multi-billion dollar contracts represent the corrupt and illicit partnership between ICE, a rogue agency that feels it is above the law, and private corporations with a business model centered on locking up immigrants and people of color,” said Jackie Gonzalez, policy director for Immigrant Defense Advocates. “They have no place in California.”

In a Nov. 14 letter to ICE, they wrote that the agency’s Oct. 16 “streamlined” solicitation and 15-year contract term could violate federal procurement laws, which are designed to protect taxpayer dollars by promoting competition among potential vendors, except under narrowly defined circumstances.

As US communities resist ICE, private prison companies are cashing in


Local governments are rebelling against the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown by refusing to hold the growing number of undocumented immigrants in its custody.

From California to Michigan, city councils and county officials are cancelling contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which rents bed space from local, county, or state-owned jails across the country. It also has hundreds of contracts with private companies to run immigration detention facilities.

The pushback doesn’t change things much for immigrants, though. The number of undocumented detainees is at a record high of 50,000, according to the latest ICE data.

If anything, local resistance is creating more opportunities for private corrections companies, and in the age of Donald Trump, business is booming.

Municipalities say no

ICE detainees can end up in local jails when the immigration enforcement agency asks local authorities to keep undocumented inmates locked up past their sentences, and pays for each extra night, or when a local jail leases space to ICE or to a private company contracted by ICE.

The majority of detainees in ICE custody—four out of five—have no criminal record or committed a minor offense, such as a traffic violation, according to data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

Under growing pressure from immigrant advocates, local communities are starting to say no to ICE. Since last summer, at least five California counties have terminated detention agreements with ICE.

From local to private

There are signs that some of the business being turned down by local entities is being picked up by private companies. Last June, Atlanta’s city jail stopped accepting ICE detainees by executive order of mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

“I, like many others, have been horrified watching the impact of President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy on children and families,” Bottoms said in a statement. “My personal angst has been compounded by the City of Atlanta’s long-standing agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s Office to house ICE detainees in our City jail.”

At the time, Bottoms said she worried that immigrants would end up in a more precarious situation if ICE put them in private facilities instead, but added the city couldn’t in good conscience continue holding them. In fact, ICE is now using a private facility elsewhere in the state and managed by the GEO Group, one of the two biggest private prison companies in the country.

In Williamson County, Texas, county commissioners voted last year to let their contract with ICE expire. The county served as an intermediary between ICE and CoreCivic, which ran a controversial detention center that houses immigrant women and children. But the facility remains open, as ICE simply circumvented the county and began working directly with CoreCivic.

The same thing is happening now in California, where state law forbids local governments from signing new agreements with ICE or expanding existing ones. In Adelanto, a high-desert town in Southern California where local officials canceled a contract under which GEO was holding ICE detainees at a county jail, private detention may actually expand under a new deal with ICE that cuts the county out of the equation altogether.

Class-Action Suit Against CoreCivic ICE Detention Center Allowed to Proceed

CoreCivic makes use of a “voluntary work program” at Stewart. Pursuant to that program, detainees who agree to perform various jobs maintaining the facility are paid between $1 and $4 per day. They also are afforded upgraded living conditions, which consist of showers with hot water, a toilet shared with one person (instead of 66 people) and a two-person cell instead of a dorm unit known as “the Chicken Coop.” Further, workers are able to earn money to purchase toilet paper and soap, which the CoreCivic-operated facility does not adequately provide.

Multiple detainees at Stewart filed a class-action suit alleging the company violated the TVPA by operating a “deprivation scheme,” in which it forced detainees to work through threats of physical violence, solitary confinement and deprivation of basic necessities. [See: PLN, Aug. 2018, p.50]. The plaintiffs said the scheme operated as follows: 1) CoreCivic deprived detainees of basic necessities, such as toilet paper; 2) detainees must participate in the voluntary work program to live in non-deplorable conditions and earn money for necessities; and 3) detainees who agree to work are threatened with harm or actually harmed if they later refuse to work. Indeed, the plaintiffs noted the company’s “detainee orientation handbook” explained that refusal to work or organizing a work stoppage would result in criminal charges.

CoreCivic moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the TVPA is not intended to apply to lawfully-held detainees. Specifically, it argued the TVPA is intended to apply narrowly to forced labor in the human trafficking context, and that extending the statute to detainee work programs would be absurd. That argument failed, though, because Congress did not limit the application of the TVPA in such a manner. In denying the company’s motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land said that while Congress could have placed such a limitation on the TVPA, it did not.

Below the Surface of ICE: The Corporations Profiting From Immigrant Detention

According to data from the Urban Justice Center’s Corrections Accountability Project, 72 percent of all migrants under ICE’s control sleep in privatized detention beds, mostly managed by private prison behemoths Geo Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America). In 2017, Geo Group and CoreCivic together earned $985 million from ICE contracts, more than a third of what ICE spends each year on custody operations. The corporations get paid whether the beds are full or not, arguably providing government an incentive to seek out prisoners so as not to “waste money.”

Geo Group and CoreCivic each run massive family detention centers in south Texas, nicknamed “baby jails” even before the current crisis. They also manage ICEdedicated facilities for adults and many of the federal prisons and local jails ICE sublets to lock up migrants. This practice is likely to expand: ICE posted a request in June for up to 15,000 more family beds at a cost of $1.7 billion annually. And if ICE pivots to electronic monitoring, Geo Group holds that contract, too.

Private prison companies don’t just operate facilities; they build them. As legal entities, both private prison companies claim status as real estate investment trusts. This tax shelter saved Geo Group $43.6 million in 2017 alone, and it boosts revenue as well. Owning and operating detention centers, according to CoreCivic estimates, earns six times more profit per prisoner than just managing operations. Immigrant detention accounted for about a quarter of each company’s revenue in 2017.

After the Justice Department announced the zero tolerance policy in April, thousands of children separated from their parents became “unaccompanied minors” under the control of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which also contracts out its custody operations. Shuttered Walmarts, hotels, temporary tents and even empty office buildings in Phoenix (where children bathe in sinks) have been converted into migrant child jails. Over a dozen private contractors manage facilities, from nonprofit Southwest Key, which has earned at least $955 million on contracts since 2015, to defense contractor MVM Inc. And when children rotate into foster care, for-profit companies like Cayuga Centers take them on. Sheltering unaccompanied minors is now a $1 billion business, with more contracts on the way.

Far from shelters and shuttles, contractors supply logistical support for immigration agencies. Consulting firm Deloitte earned $18 million in 2017 for case management. Salesforce has a software contract with Customs and Border Protection. Microsoft handles ICE’s data processing. An obscure surveillance firm called Pen-Link provides ICE with “real-time tracking” through cell phone and geolocation data. Another logistics infrastructure contract with Palantir, a Silicon Valley data-mining firm owned by libertarian Trump supporter Peter Thiel, uses Amazon’s cloud computing storage.

ICE spent $1.7 billion on close to 5,000 contractors in 2017, the most money this decade. “The immigration system is used as a vehicle to extract wealth from communities, or at the very least as a vehicle to launder taxpayer money into the private sector,” says Bianca Tylek, director of the Corrections Accountability Project.

The motivation to maximize revenue by cutting corners contributes to a nightmarish experience for detainees. Under private contractors, allegations of inedible food, verbal and physical abuse, inadequate medical attention, children covered in lice, and forced ingestion of psychotropic drugs are commonplace. Many migrants work in the facilities for just $1 a day under virtual slave conditions. Members of Congress have complained that detention phone operators charge parents separated from children up to $8 a minute to speak to them.

More than 1,200 allegations of sexual assault at both public and privately run adult detention facilities were filed between 2010 and 2017, and police reports indicate hundreds more incidents victimizing children. One HIV-positive worker at Southwest Key was charged in August with molesting at least eight minors; other Southwest Key cases involve children as young as 6. “If you’re a predator, it’s a gold mine,” said one psychiatrist. Unconfirmed reports of suicides and deaths in custody cap off the grim scene.

In the Public Interest researched in 2016 how six banks— Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, SunTrust, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo — provide revolving credit, term loans and corporate bond underwriting to CoreCivic and Geo Group. The banks fund the construction of new detention centers, acquisitions of smaller companies and general cashflow. According to an April report published by the Center for Popular Democracy, between 90 and 95 percent of CoreCivic and Geo Group’s cash on hand was borrowed in 2017. Interest payments on that debt equaled $217.5 million. As of March 2018, the two companies carried $3.1 billion in debt. These six banks, in addition to profiting from the private prison duopoly, are vital to its existence. And banks have to face consumers, making them an inviting target for activists.

Win Without War, an anti-war group, demanded that military contractors General Dynamics and MVM drop their contracts. Demand Progress, which normally organizes around net neutrality and NSA spying, called on Salesforce to stop working with Customs and Border Protection. “We got involved because we saw the nexus between big, unaccountable tech companies and government oppression, especially surveillance,” says Robert Cruickshank, campaign director of Demand Progress. “These tech companies are making it easier for law enforcement to target and harass people, especially people of color and immigrants.”

Combining street protests with research on who profits from the immigration system — a Gordian knot of opaque subcontracting and financing relationships that activists have been picking at for years — is critical to that effort. When every uniform, every catered meal, every transportation shuttle, everything ICE does is contested, it throws sand into the gears of its operation.

ICE’s extreme privatization was a catalyst to produce these pressure points, but it also speaks to a disconnect between capitalism and morality, and how family separation reveals those fissures. The ICE fight is about human rights but also labor rights — the rights of workers to exert democratic control over company contracts and reject immoral work. It’s about small towns with dried-up economies that have no choice but to become America’s migrant jailers. It’s about the influence of lobbyists, and also financiers. It’s about how the public gets a say in how public money should be spent. It’s about the over-criminalization that gets the undocumented on ICE’s radar. It’s even about our energy policy, with climate refugees soon to follow the current wave of asylum seekers fleeing violence.

“A lot of times in our politics, there’s a singular focus on who is elected and who might hold formal reins of power,” says Kevin Connor, co-founder of Little Sis, which has focused on ties between political and financial elites for years. “This is a moment where people are seeing a power structure above and beyond that. Research systems and organizing can lay the groundwork for this kind of moment where that power structure can be challenged more directly.”

Number of Women Alleging Misconduct by ICE Gynecologist Nearly Triples

Advocates briefed senators on allegations that a doctor working with an ICE detention center performed unnecessary or overly aggressive procedures.

At least 17 women treated by a doctor alleged to have performed unnecessary or overly aggressive gynecological procedures without proper informed consent remain in detention at Irwin County Detention Center, a privately run facility in Georgia housing U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainees, according to a briefing and written materials submitted by attorneys and advocates to Senators in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. The total number of women known to have been seen by the doctor since 2018 who say they underwent or were pressured to undergo unnecessary treatments has risen to 57 — a higher number than previously known — according to the group of lawyers.

57 Migrant Women Say They Were Victims of ICE Gynecologist

At least 57 women in a Georgia ICE detention center say they were forced or pressured into having gynecological procedures, according to a group of immigration lawyers, doctors and previously detained women who met with senators on Monday (this number is almost three times higher than previous estimates.) They presented the politicians with more than 60 pages of documentation, according to the Intercept, in which mostly Black and Latina immigrants allege that Dr. Mahendra Amin, the primary gynecologist at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, coerced them into having “overly aggressive” or “medically unnecessary” surgeries — in most cases without their consent.

In findings from a recent report published in the Los Angeles Times, some women say they were threatened with retaliation if they pushed back on recommended procedures, even in cases where their original complaints were non-gynecological. They describe a pattern of awaking from surgeries to discover their fertility was compromised or they were unable to have kids.

One woman, who the Times identified as Amanda, said she woke up from a surgery chained to a hospital bed. Amin had given her a dilation and curettage — a surgery to scrape tissue from her uterus — without her consent. Before she was sedated she says Amin had told her he was draining an ovarian cyst, and that if she refused care it would affect her access to future medical treatment.

Shereace, a 34-year-old Jamaican woman who requested the Times use only her first name, said she went to see Amin because she was having abnormal Pap smears. After the procedure, the doctor said her tubes were “damaged and no good, and he let me know I’m never going to be able to have kids,” according to the Times. She was crushed and still doesn’t know what he did to her.

A third woman, 48-year-old Wendy Dowe, said she was surprised to see her stomach bandaged up after having surgery, and had to write to the medical office to ask what kind of procedure she was subjected to. At a later appointment she told the Times that Amin and other medical staff tried to pressure her into getting a hysterectomy by asking how many kids she had. “They treat you like you’re not human,” Dowe said. She and Shereace have since been deported to Jamaica after spending decades in the U.S.

“The fact that Black and brown immigrant women are held in an extremely vulnerable position at this prison where they have no control over their bodies and no say about what is done to them is sickening,” Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, told the Cut. “Irwin should be shut down immediately and people should be freed.”

Detained, Then Violated: 1,224 Complaints Reveal a Staggering Pattern of Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention. Half of Those Accused Worked for ICE.


A woman held at an immigration detention center in Washington state said she was raped by a medical worker and a private facility contractor as she sought help in the center’s medical unit. Another woman said officers cuffed and maced her following an argument with a fellow detainee at an immigration detention center in Florida. Then, as she lay on the ground, an officer sat on her “like a person would sit on a horse,” his “erect penis on her butt.” Officers then filmed her as she showered to wash off the mace, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

Elsewhere in Florida, a man said a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent threatened him with deportation after he refused to engage in oral sex — and that the officer told him he would be deported to Haiti, even though the man is from the Bahamas. In Texas, a Border Patrol agent driving detainees between detention centers pulled over and let a woman get out after she performed oral sex on him, according to another complaint.

Many other women and men held in immigration detention across the country reported routine searches that turned into groping and fondling. Many said they were propositioned, subjected to suggestive stares and sexual innuendo, and threatened with retaliation if they spoke up. Many said officers shrugged when they reported abuse by fellow detainees.

These allegations are just a sample of hundreds of complaints of sexual and physical abuse in immigration detention obtained by The Intercept in response to a public records request with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, which is tasked with independently reviewing the department’s various agencies, including ICE and Border Patrol.

The reports obtained by The Intercept include 1,224 complaints filed between 2010 and September 2017, primarily about incidents that took place in ICE custody. But in earlier responses, officials with the DHS Office of Inspector General indicated that the office received some 33,000 complaints between 2010 and 2016 alleging a wide range of abuses in immigration detention. The OIG provided records documenting investigations for just 2 percent of the complaints it shared with The Intercept.

But the sheer number of complaints — despite serious obstacles in the path of those filing them, as well as the patterns they reveal about mistreatment in facilities nationwide — suggest that sexual assault and harassment in immigration detention are not only widespread but systemic, and enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable. While the reports obtained by The Intercept are only a fraction of those filed, they shed light on a system that operates largely in secrecy, and they help hint at the magnitude of the abuse, and the incompetence and complicity of the agency tasked with the safety of the 40,000 women, men, and children it detains each day in more than 200 jails, prisons, and detention centers across the country.

Many more victims, presumably, never filed a complaint in the first place.

4,500 Reports of Sexual Abuse in Government Funded Detention Centers (Migrant Camps)

The federal government received more than 4,500 complaints in four years about the sexual abuse of immigrant children who were being held at government-funded detention facilities, including an increase in complaints while the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border was in place, the Justice Department revealed this week.

The records, which involve children who had entered the country alone or had been separated from their parents, detailed allegations that adult staff members had harassed and assaulted children, including fondling and kissing minors, watching them as they showered, and raping them. They also included cases of suspected abuse of children by other minors.

From October 2014 to July 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a part of the Health and Human Services Department that cares for so-called unaccompanied minors, received a total of 4,556 allegations of sexual abuse or sexual harassment, 1,303 of which were referred to the Justice Department. Of those 1,303 cases deemed the most serious, 178 were accusations that adult staff members had sexually assaulted immigrant children.

The separation of families fleeing violence is cruel and inhumane – but keeping babies in cages indefinitely is much worse.

Immigrant detention centers are unsafe for any human being. In the past few years several allegations have surfaced of abuse and sexual assault against detention center guards and we know that people in detention are denied access to basic healthcare services. Already adults are held in these facilities for months on end; it is unimaginable that children would find themselves growing up in these prison-like facilities.

If we want to keep families together we should stop prosecuting their parents for making the same decision we would all make: fleeing to the U.S. border to keep our children safe from violence at home.

Children don’t belong in cages. Sign our petition to keep them out of long-term detention.

PHOTOS: Are Immigrant Children Being Held in Cages at Border?

Is it true? Are immigrant children being held in cages as a result of Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border? Although some of the photos showing the enclosures that have been widely circulated actually date to 2014 and the Obama administration, recent photos and news stories from 2018 do show the children being held in what some journalists are calling cages and others chain-link fence enclosures.

News Media Accounts Described ‘Cages’ in June 2018

News articles published in June 2018 from reputable news organizations indicated that immigrant children were being held in cages. The Associated Press was allowed to tour facilities holding immigrant children in June 2018 and reported that they were being held in “cages.”

“Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets,” that article began. You can read it in full here. It was published on June 17, 2018.

The AP further reported in that story that “the cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting in the warehouse stays on around the clock. The Border Patrol said close to 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent. Another 500 were ‘family units,’ parents and children.”

Also writing on June 17, 2018, the Los Angeles Times referred to them as “chain-link fenced spaces.” According to The Los Angeles Times, “The center’s two massive rooms were separated into 22 chain link-fenced spaces, many labeled ‘cells’ with netting on top to prevent escapes. They’re cleaned three times a day.” An official said fencing was used “because it was cheap and see-through,” The LA Times reported

NPR, however, quoted a spokeswoman for a non-profit sheltering some of the children as saying those children were not held in cages. That article was published June 14, 2018. NPR described that facility as “the largest government-contracted migrant youth shelter in the country” and “a former Walmart supercenter converted into living, recreational and dining quarters for nearly 1,500 immigrant boys.” You can see photos of it here. That’s not really a discrepancy, though, if you consider that the McAllen processing center is a shorter-term facility before children are separated from their parents under the Trump administration approach and sent to shelter while the parents are proceeding through the court system.


‘The containers offer privacy!’ Biden under fire for opening child detainment center, but some liberals jump to defend him

The first child immigration detainment facility under President Joe Biden opened this week, prompting Democrats who had attacked former President Donald Trump for maintaining similar facilities to go on the defensive.

A former oil field worker camp in Carrizo Springs, Texas, it was briefly used as a detainment facility by the Trump administration in 2019 before being closed down, but is now back in operation to hold “up to 700 children,” with the Biden administration saying it was needed since capacity has been cut at other facilities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Immigration activists were saddened to hear of the facility reopening, with lawyer Linda Brandmiller telling the Washington Post it was “unnecessary,”“costly,” and “absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to do.”

Activist Rosey Abuabara, who was reportedly arrested for protesting against the camp in 2019, told the Post she cried upon hearing that the facility was opening again. “I don’t have any hope that Biden is going to make it better,” she said.

There was plenty of criticism on social media, too, with some taking aim at Biden and the Democrats, noting that during his campaign he had expressed opposition to child detainment facilities – often referred to by critics and the media as “kids in cages” under the Trump administration.

“if you dont vote for biden, you dont care about the kids in cages at the border”

— toffee (@enbylenin) February 23, 2021

Meet the new boss, you’ll be amazed at the similarities between him and the old boss.

— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) February 23, 2021

Others described the facility as a concentration camp and a “child prison,” with one journalist writing, “They’re literally reopening Trump child camps but saying it’s good this time.”

weird, thought ‘kids in cages’ was not going to be a thing anymore

— Current Affairs (@curaffairs) February 23, 2021

Concentration camp expansion under a Democrat administration.

— Donate to Texas #MutualAid Groups (@_SemaHernandez_) February 23, 2021

Here we go with the concentration camps again. and if you think I exaggerate, those sure look like cages to me

— ❤️ (@umairh) February 23, 2021

Americans also took aim at the Washington Post for its more muted language in describing the camp, compared to the newspaper’s coverage of similar facilities under President Trump.

Kids in cages is now “migrant facility for children.”

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 23, 2021

Big difference 20 months and a new President makes, @washingtonpost.

— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) February 23, 2021

There were liberals who defended the reopening of the camp under Biden, however.

One anti-Trump tweeter told critics that the containers used at the facility “offer privacy” which kids “do not have in cages,” and that it was “the fastest and cheapest alternative” until a permanent solution is found.

Detaining kids is never an ideal situation, but some things to consider:Will these kids have beds w/real blankets—not foil?Will these kids have access to showers, etc & clean clothes?Will they be placed w/sponsors ASAP—within 15-30 days?If so, those things make a difference.

— Nightowl (@Nightow10218300) February 23, 2021

These are not cages. The children have beds, blankets and real bathrooms. The article said they are only here until their rightful sponsors are found. They are also taking in others that were being held up in Mexico. They had no place to live there.

— Black Girl Justice (@dodi70) February 23, 2021

Another user compared the facility units to “mobile homes that people live in all over the country,” prompting an actual mobile home resident to point out that he doesn’t have bars on his windows and has the ability to leave the home when he desires.

Standford Prison Experiment

“How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please read the story of what happened and what it tells us about the nature of human nature.”

Terror At The Elan School For Troubled Teens | The Last Stop (Full Documentary) | Real Families

Set deep in the woods of Maine, the Elan school delivered controversial therapy to troubled teens. It was a meat grinder of raw emotion and harsh discipline. Whilst it may have worked for some of the teens in there, for most this school was hell.

Real Families brings you stories of modern-day family life from around the world through the eyes of children, parents, and parenting experts. Stay with us for weekly documentaries and full episodes of evergreen family documentaries and parenting TV shows.

IAmA Graduate of The Elan School – /u/gzasmyhero

Viral Reddit post from The Last Stop documentary.

Joe vs. Elan School

A man named Joe talks about his Elan School experience

Making a Murderer

Filmed over a 10-year period, Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime.
Damien Echols: how I survived death row

Echols was 18 at the time, and his friend Jason Baldwin was two years younger. “There were three cops, a sort of juvenile task force, who used to harass pretty much every kid in our neighbourhood.” One of them, Echols says, was convinced that Satanists were responsible for every bad thing that happened in town; he would show people Polaroid photos of roadkill – possums and raccoons run over by cars – and bizarrely claim it was evidence of animal sacrifices. “These cops had been harassing me and Jason for about two years before they finally decided they were going to pin these murders on me.”

A month after the murders Echols, Baldwin and another youth, Jessie Misskelley, were arrested. Misskelley has an IQ of 68; after he had been interrogated for 12 hours, alone, he signed a confession that implicated both Echols and Baldwin. At their subsequent trial, evidence introduced by the prosecution included the fact that Echols wore Metallica T-shirts and read Stephen King novels. Echols had an alibi for the time of the murders – he was at home with his grandmother, mother and sister, not to mention that he had made phonecalls to three different people that evening. “That didn’t matter to the jury,” he says. “The local media had run so many stories about Satanic orgies and human sacrifices that by the time we walked into that courtroom the jury saw the trial as nothing more than a formality. It was over before we even walked in.”