To: Jeh Johnson, DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson
Homeland Security: Cut Your Private Prison Ties
Terminate and refuse to renew immigrant detention contracts with private prison companies.
Why is this important?
The Department of Justice announced that it is cancelling its contracts with private prison companies because of dangers and abuses outlined in exposés and a recent official government report(1).
However, the majority of federal private prison contracts are actually held by the Department of Homeland Security for its sprawling immigrant detention facilities. While private prisons make up 8% of the prison population, they made up 62% of immigrant detention in 2014(2).
In the wake of the Dept. of Justice announcement(3), the stock price for the main private prison companies plummeted. But they've told shareholders that immigrant detention is a stable investment and a growth industry. The Department of Homeland Security even has plans to open a NEW detention center to house transgender detainees in Texas.
But all of those immigrant prisons are also dangerous and riddled with abuses.
12 people have died just at a single Corrections Corporation of America facility, the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Conditions there prompted a call for a Congressional investigation after a suspicious "suicide" last summer(4) and there are multiple demands for investigation into four sexual assault cases where guards are accused of abusing detainees.
What is true about the findings of private prisons under the Department of Justice is true in immigrant detention under the Department of Homeland Security only at a larger scale.
As long as private prisons exist, they'll just be recycled between government agencies. With the Department of Justice moving to end its contracts, private companies today will be looking for new customers and the Obama administration needs to make sure that DHS and no other government agency will be their clients.
As we push for an end to immigrant detention, sign to remove the profit motive from detention.
1. Inspector General Report on Private Prisons
2. The Problem With The DOJ’s Decision To Stop Using Private Prisons
3. The Dept. of Justice Will Stop Using Private Prisons
4. The Strange Death of Jose de Jesus