… Cruz is one of thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers who are picked up in one part of the country and transferred to other parts of the far-flung network of more than 200 detention centers every year. The transfers often result in people being released on the streets of unfamiliar communities far from family, support and legal representation. … Each month, ICE shuffles thousands of detainees throughout the web of privately contracted centers, county jails and other facilities to keep beds filled. ICE has no obligation to return detainees to the areas where they were picked up. These transfers prioritize finances over the well-being of people being moved, immigrants rights advocates say. … Transfers allow ICE to keep beds filled in detention centers around the country and consolidate detainees near immigration courts with faster dockets and transportation, he said. A congressional mandate requires ICE to maintain at least 34,000 detention beds a day. … Detainees are regularly released without much notice, advocates say. Detention facilities typically have phones that those inside can use, but once detainees are released, ICE doesn’t help them transition into the outside world. “There’s a lot of shuffling of people that takes place to fill beds,” said Megan Hope, a social worker with the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network. “It’s very burdensome for somebody to get out in a community they’re not from.” …
Private prisons usually get a bad wrap from advocates, for a lack of oversight. But, that wasn’t main reason behind Sheriff Ed Gonzalez shifting the department away from private prisons. … “Within three months, we were able to move everybody back in house,” Gonzalez said. … According to the Harris County Sheriff’s office, the department spent $4.5 million on outsourced inmates last fiscal year. This fiscal year, they’re projecting to spend just under $300,000 (for what’s been spent before the transition). … He says there are also other benefits to bringing inmates back in-house. “We have more control of what we’re doing. You know, the medical records, things like that,” Gonzalez said. Another benefit? Loved ones can visit inmates, without having to travel to other municipalities or cities.
Source: Tafi Mukunyadzi, Associated Press, August 14, 2017
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that the state will seek bids from the private sector to take over operations of seven juvenile detention centers in Arkansas. Hutchinson said the Arkansas Department of Human Services recommended soliciting a private operator, and that bids were likely to go out in December. The winning bid is expected to be announced in March, and the facilities would be taken over in July, the governor said. …
Abstract: Who is in private prisons? This seemingly straightforward question has received surprisingly little attention in the United States. This paper analyzes national prison data to provide demographic profiles of prisoners and workers in private prisons in the United States and to compare them to prisoners and workers in state and federal prisons. It summarizes data on jurisdiction, sentence length, race, and citizenship of prisoners, as well as the race and gender of correctional officers. Results reveal differences between private and public prisons with respect to both prisoners and workers. Specifically, private prisons detain inmate populations that are disproportionately non-white, under federal jurisdiction, and serving short sentences; and they employ officers that are disproportionately female and black or Hispanic. These results depict the private prison sector as distinct from its public counterpart—both in terms of prisoner and staff composition. A discussion considers the implications of these findings for equity in punishment.
Source: John Stanton, Buzzfeed News, August 8, 2017
The Department of Homeland Security is transferring dozens of undocumented women to a privately run detention center in Texas that has a history of complaints against it, including overcrowding, inadequate food services, and even snake infestations in detainee barracks. … At least three companies have been brought in to operate the facility since 2015, and its warden was fired in 2016 after it was taken over by Emerald Correctional Management following complaints of squalid living conditions. Last year, the US Marshals Service began monitoring conditions at the detention center in response to attorneys’ complaints. … The Sierra Blanca facility is now run by LaSalle Corrections, according to its website. The DHS spokesperson couldn’t comment on why LaSalle was now in charge, nor could she discuss what, if any, reforms have been made at the facility in response to past complaints. …
Source: Ben Allen, WITF, July 13, 2017
A midstate county may need a new prison soon, and one of its leaders is considering working with a private operator. Berks County Commissioner Mark Scott says he’s been talking with one of the major players… A new prison could cost more than $100 million. But Commissioner Mark Scott says working with a private prison company could cut those costs and speed up the construction process. …
Source: Yvonne Gonzalez, Las Vegas Sun, June 14, 2017
A proposed ban on private prisons in Nevada will not move forward after Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto. Assembly Bill 303 is among more than two dozen measures to be vetoed. Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, D-North Las Vegas, sponsored the proposed private prison ban, and worked with stakeholders to amend the measure to allow agencies until 2022 to make the transition. …
North Las Vegas lawmaker wants ban on for-profit prisons
Source: Ben Botkin, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 22, 2017
No for-profit prison operators run Nevada corrections facilities, and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno wants to keep it that way. The retired North Las Vegas city correctional officer is a primary sponsor of Assembly Bill 303, which would ban local jails and state prisons from contracting with private companies for core services. The Assembly Ways and Means Committee heard the bill on Monday, without taking action…. Kevin Ranft, a lobbyist with AFSME, [sic] the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, called the bill “long overdue,” noting that Nevada has tried for-profit prisons before and they’ve failed…
Hundreds of thousands of people are held for varying amounts of time in America’s privately run detention centers every year. Want to know how well these private facilities are managed? What about how they treat their detainees? Or how the federal government holds the private companies accountable for mistakes, negligence, or worse? Good luck trying to find the answers in the sparse data the federal government makes public. There are currently 112 federal detention centers in America that house people who are arrested for entering the country illegally, and non-US citizens who are deemed a threat to national security, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that oversees these detention centers. ICE detention centers are either run by the government itself or, in the majority of cases, run by private contractors. The number of privately run facilities is expected to increase under the Trump Administration. … While all ICE detainees face the possibility of deportation, the stakes may be especially high for people sent to private detention centers. … Allegations of abuse may grow given that the Trump Administration is moving to reduce oversight of these private facilities. The New York Times reported that, according to unnamed DHS officials, new contracts with private detention centers will not require that the centers provide translation services or prompt medical care to detainees. Additionally, ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning, which, among other things, created guidelines to help prevent sexual assault of detainees, is being shuttered.
… Even fundamental information on America’s immigrant detention complex is hard to pin down. … Based on POGO’s analysis, it is clear that even the most basic information about ICE detainees and detention facilities is not available online. … Unlike government agencies, private companies that are contracted by the federal government to run ICE detention centers are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This makes it much more difficult to obtain information about these facilities. … Congress should pass the Private Prison Information Act of 2017 (H.R. 1980) into law, which would expand the Freedom of Information Act to apply to private detention facilities.
Source: Julia O’Donoghue, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 10, 2017
Louisiana lawmakers are taking a new look at privatizing management of five more state prisons. The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on Wednesday (May 10) sent the full House a resolution asking for a study of privatization, an option not recommended by a host of other political leaders and analysts who have been pushing prison reform in recent months. Private operators already are in place at two Louisiana prisons: Allen Correctional Center at Kinder and Winn Correctional Center near Winnfield. House Concurrent Resolution 30 would require the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to look at privatizing five more — all except the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel. … Louisiana recently concluded a 10-month task force study on how the state could reduce its highest-in-the-world incarceration rate and save money on incarceration. Privatization was not recommended. Nor has it been promoted by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican legislators who are pushing a criminal justice reform package in the current legislative session. … But Louisiana has had budget shortfalls consistently since 2009. To tighten its belt, the state downgraded the Winn and Allen sites from certified prisons to jails in 2016. No other state has made a similar move, essentially an administrative maneuver that lets a state work around prison regulations and save money. …
Louisiana considering closing 2 prisons in budget cuts
Source: Kevin Litten, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 19, 2016
The Louisiana Department of Corrections is considering closing closing two privately operated prisons as it tries to cut $14.1 million in spending to help close the state’s $940 million budget shortfall. Winn Correctional Center and Allen Correctional Center, are operated by two separate companies. The two closures would save an estimated $4.6 million. Another option the Department of Corrections is floating — and the one the department most prefers — is to temporarily reduce the rate the state pays the two companies that operate Winn and Allen prisons, for a savings of $2.6 million. … The proposal for the two private operators of the prisons, LaSalle Southwest Corrections and the GEO Group, sets up a difficult ultimatum: Either accept the lower per-prisoner pay rate or face total shutdown. The department currently pays $31.52 per day; the local rate the department wants to pay is $24.39 per day.
Corrections outlines plans for $14.2 million shortfall, including plans to potentially shut down two privately run prisons, reducing sheriffs’ pay for housing state inmates
Source: Bryn Stole, The Advocate, February 19, 2016
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections may shutter two privately run prisons and reduce the rates it pays parish sheriffs for housing state inmates as it faces a $14.2 million shortfall for the budget that ends June 30. … Shutting the two facilities would cost about 630 jobs, LeBlanc said, but it will allow the corrections department to save an estimated $2.3 million by shuffling the roughly 3,200 inmates to parish jails. Other savings would be made up by reducing overtime pay and slashing the rates that are paid to local jails.
At least one commissioner and activists are raising questions about the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office’s choice of a contractor to provide medical care at the county jail. Sheriff Ira Edwards and Chief Jailer Tommy York have recommended Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. for a five-year contract paying nearly $1.7 million next year, rising each year to $2 million in fiscal 2022. The current contractor, CorrectHealth Athens, lasted just one year, and the contract was opened up for bidding, with five companies responding. Athens for Everyone’s Tim Denson expressed concern about Armor in a letter to the Mayor and Commission, citing “questionable deaths” in New York, Milwaukee, Oklahoma and Florida. …