The Private Texas Prisons Housing Undocumented Immigrants Are a Disaster

Reeves.png
ACLU of Texas
Reeves County Detention Center is one of five prisons in Texas for non-citizen offenders.
Until 2011, Luis lived in Mexico, where he made a living building houses. Luis' wife and children, who are American citizens, lived in Los Angeles. Luis visited his wife and children as much as he could, until he was arrested for illegal reentry. For this crime, he served a three-year sentence at Big Spring Correction Center in west Texas, alongside nearly 3,500 other inmates.

Luis is one of over 25,000 non-citizen prisoners currently incarcerated in Criminal Alien Requirement, or CAR, facilities across the United States. And according to a 100-plus page document released today by the ACLU of Texas, the private prison facilities are routinely guilty of prisoner neglect, abuse, medical mistreatment and overcrowding.

There are 13 CAR facilities across the United States, and with five CAR centers, Texas is home to the highest concentration. The rampant abuse at these centers is due largely to the privately-owned, for-profit nature or CAR centers. The Bureau of Prisons has increasingly turned to CAR prisons to house the influx of immigration violators. These CAR facilities exclusively house non-citizens and are lower security prisons than federal prisons.

Some of these Texas facilities are little more than tents, privy to poor plumbing and little protection against the elements. This leads to reports of unsanitary conditions such as overflowing toilets, insect infestations, and overcrowded living quarters. And with a sluggish legal system to process these prisoners out of CAR facilities, the result is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars -- in 2014, the Bureau of Prisons requested $700 million for 2014 to fund privately-run prisons such as CAR facilities, according to the ACLU's report.

The ACLU alleges that the for-profit nature of CAR facilities is an incentive for overcrowding and consequent poor living conditions. In one contract with the Bureau of Prisons -- with the GEO Group, , which one of the five CAR facilities in Texas -- a minimum 90 percent occupancy is stipulated, with a financial per-prisoner payment incentive up to 115 percent occupancy. As a result, many Texas prisoners at Reeves County Detention Center report tightly-knit bunk beds in recreation areas next to poorly maintained bathrooms. The prison yard contains Port-a-Potties that have not been emptied in nearly four years, the ACLU found. Prisoners also report denial or delay of medical treatment and frequent use of isolation cells. The frequency of isolation is easily explained by a contractual agreement requiring 10 percent of CAR prison cells to be exclusively reserved for isolation, says Carl Takei, a staff attorney for the ACLU National Prison Project.

Rebecca Robertson, Legal and Policy Director for the ACLU of Texas, says that the impact on families and communities, in addition to the physical hardships endured by prisoners, is too high.

"One of the hidden prices that we are paying for the criminalization of immigration is this human toll," she said in a teleconference this morning. "We think that everyone deserves basic human dignity," added Executive Director Terri Burke. "We also think its time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars."

The ACLU is formally presenting a comprehensive reform recommendation to the Obama administration, Congress, the Bureau of Prisons, and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Among these reforms, the ACLU is requesting a formal investigation into the quality of CAR facilities, and specific legislation to address the problems incurred by criminalizing immigration and partnerships with privatized non-citizen prison facilities.


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29 comments
ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Since corporations are people, lock one of em up in its own hell for a month. Along with its legislator on the take.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

The units in Reeves County and in Big Spring appear to be run by the GEO group.  My experience with The Geo Group was when I visited a relative down in Lockhart.  During several visits, I noticed that there wasn't a whole lot of professionalism in their dress or conduct.  In fact, they gave me the impression that they were one screw-up away from a bad situation at any time.

wcvemail
wcvemail

For the record, I agree that there is near- or fully fraudulent abuse and waste of government funds in these under-staffed, under-maintained prisons for profit. But that's an opportunistic infection, not the underlying illness.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

They are already under federal government control.  So what's your solution, Ms. Mathis?  Turn them over to the VA system?  Put them under the federal bureau of prisons?  

Put them downtown in one of the HUD assisted skyscraper conversions?

Waive your wand.

We wouldn't have this Exodus of kids and women if the President had not thrown the gates wide open.  

dingo
dingo

Plausibility Alert


Who is Luis and why did he get 3 years just for illegally entering this country?

Something smells and it ain't my Long John Silvers Super Sampler.

iwearblack
iwearblack

Doesn't ACLU stand for AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union? They should butt out and let the MCLU or LULAC handle it... Besides, aren't prisons supposed to be unpleasant places that you don't want to return to? Don't want to stew in yours and someone else's filth? Then don't cross the border illegally... That goes for the wretched Canadians too...

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Considering the run on the border in anticipation of amnesty, things aren't going to get much better.

Maybe word will get out that being illegal ain't all it's cracked up to be.

wcvemail
wcvemail

First! (and the vocabulary word for this article is "jingoist.")

dingo
dingo

@ozonelarryb 

Good suggestion, except for the fact that any shelter of any kind whatsoever is now needed for the Central American kids that Obama invited up with free permisos.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@bvckvs no dimwit.   Privatization is not as efficient, not as well executed as gov't direct administration of prisons, road contracts/construction is another.  For a fan of gov't, you need to learn it's traditional role, and you need to learn to articulate it's limits.  You, and your left leaning dimwits aren't very good at that.  Not to say the GOP and conservatives and "libertarians" are any better.  I don't suffer fools, and yet I deigned to write this helpful missive to you.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

"Proper oversight" would be immediate deportation.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@MaxNoDifference

It was GEO-run prisons in Texas in which Idaho thought they'd found their solution for overcrowding, but there was such mismanagement that even the state of Idaho -- hardly a touchy-feely, liberal state -- canceled the contract and brought their prisoners home.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@amazing_divershitty you should shoot yourself, or move to Sweden.  The border crossed them, we took this state so we could enslave people.  So, we brought the blacks in, and the Mexicans.  We have ourselves to blame, you, should shoot yourself.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@holmantx Let the gov't run them, which it does more efficiently, more professionally, and for less cost.  It gets back to those essential utility functions of gov't.  800 years ago, in the Magna Carta we realized this.  Welcome to the enlightenment Holman  

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@iwearblack you need to move to another country, cause you don't know what it means to be American.  You might refer to the Declaration of Independence, and the point that "all persons (not all Americans) are endowed with inalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  Due process of law and the protections that followed in the Bill of Rights are also essential elements of what it means to be an American.  Maybe you're an ignorant confederate enslaver, I don't know, but we settled these matters almost 150 years ago.  Try to keep up dipshit

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@iwearblack  Uh, maybe we could tone down the rhetoric in regards to the Canadians.  At the rate things are going I might be the one jumping across that border.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@TheRuddSki

I feel as if I should create some sort of standard disclaimer when I post responses to you, something like "Although I realize this thread will probably get hijacked into a Rudd/Myrna duopoly, I'd like to say..."

That done, I understand that the "word" is being propagated throughout Central America in particular by coyotes as a profit motive to incent paying passengers. That's tinged with enough murkiness from Obama's (ooops, cue diatribe) directives that, among other things, delay children's deportation for up to two years. Given that those desperate* people are barely literate to begin with, much less readers of nuanced government-speak, the "word" will persist like Nigerian scams. 

There aren't any emails or letter going back, either, saying "Don't do it, Maria, it's not true!"

*Honduras is the answer to the trivia question, "What country has the world's highest murder rate?" And ironically, the whole MS-13/Mara Salvatrucha debacle started when the U.S. began deporting teenaged gang-bangers from L.A.

lecterman
lecterman

@TheRuddSki But then how would the corporations that own these prisons and pay off politicians make easy profits?  We have to think about the corporations.

dingo
dingo

@wcvemail 

So Luis is not really relevant to the subject of 'criminalizing immigration'  but would serve as an exemplary example if the story instead concerned criminalizing criminality.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

---Spokesman Josh Earnest said “I think one thing that we can do is to be as clear as possible about the law and about what the consequences are for making a decision like that.”---

Yeah. A firm message. That will stop the rush. Hopefully they'll use Spanish. Still won't work, though. Embarrassingly, our president is mono-lingual, but I think he could handle this on the TelePrompTer.

"He visto los informes de noticias y permítanme ser claro, estoy enojado"

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@lecterman

We really need to think about the anti Latino-American people who exacerbate the problem, like our president.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@dingo @wcvemail

If he's the poster child, apparently the best example, I wonder who else is confined there for what else.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@TheRuddSki

You have a good translation tool. (Full disclosure: I passed both ends of the bilingual interpreter exams and was certified by the American Translators Assoc., at least until I quit paying their dues.) 

The U.S. State Dept. will duly commission an overpaid crony firm to develop Spanish fliers to be posted at U.S. embassies and the few consulates, sending this "clear as possible" message that was barely intelligible in English Fed-speak to begin with.

However, many of these newer arrivals truly cannot read Spanish. They are indigenous-language speakers from the interiors of the failing states of Central America. They would have no reason to visit the capital cities where the U.S. embassies are, anyway, since they're saving their travel money to pay the coyotes for the big trip.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@TheRuddSki Obama has been much more effective at deportations than Bush.  But, far be it from you to offer consistent criticism, or to find commentators that do the same. Pity you'd so respect the work of people who output is either foolish, or exploits the ignorance of the foolish.  That shit wipes off on you after a while

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@wcvemail

I think it's fair to dub this latest border rush "Obamagration".

As to the language, immigrants assimilate. Eventually they'll learn Spanish.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@scottindallas

The main compliant I had with Bush was on illegal immigration. Some commenters might disagree. I'm sure none of us will ever vote for him again.

But in the here and now, we have a humanitarian crisis, there seems a perception and rumor that the United States has an open door for children who will be taken care of. Which is basically true.

It's the Obama Amnesty Rush, they know El Jeffe makes the rules and can change any deadline or requirement before lunch. He does that a lot. That's all they need to know.

Ahora es un concierto gratuito,

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