The American Civil Liberties Union recently released a scathing report on the nation’s private immigration prison system that took to task the Bureau of Prison, its contractors, and America as a whole. In the report, the ACLU claimed that the Bureau and its contractors had managed to generate a private prison system for illegal immigrants that was essentially unregulated and which incentivized companies to hold prisoners in solitary confinement for profit. It also made claims of rampant abuse throughout the system and accused those in authority or being allowed to get away with those abuses.
The 104-page report is the culmination of several years of research into the private immigration prison system in America in general and focuses particularly on five facilities that are located in the state of Texas. For-profit private prison companies received upwards of $600 million in 2013 from the Bureau of Prisons in exchange for running what has been termed “privately operated institutions”. When asked by the ACLU for comment about the report, two of the major private prison companies denied that abuses were taking place in their facilities and one of the corporations refused to respond.
The report found that in the forty years between 1970 and 2009, the prison population in the United States grew by over 700 percent with the majority of that growth coming from the drug war in America during the first two decades in question. Since the turn of the century, however, that trend has shifted from most of the prison population growth resulting from the war on drugs to resulting from immigration offenders. Over the last several years, immigration has become the single most prosecuted federal offense in the United States whereas in the years leading up to the millennium illegal border crossings were treated as a civil offense. Border-state politics is believed to be largely responsible for that shift.
The ACLU report accuses the private prison industry of reaping outrageous profits as a result of the criminalization of immigration. It states that federal prisoners who do not have citizenship or resident status are typically separated into what are known as “Criminal Alien Requirement” prison facilities after they are prosecuted. These prisons have certain attributes that other non-immigrant prisons do not. The first is that they are among the only federal prisons in the country that are operated by for-profit corporations rather than as federal institutions. Secondly, they only hold non-citizen inmates, and third, they have lower security requirements than higher security prisons that are directly operated through the Bureau of Prisons.
The report also accuses the federal government and the private prison industry of using the contracts with the private for-profit prison companies to escape public records laws and to avoid media scrutiny. According to the Union, the Bureau of Prisons does not provide adequate oversight and require accountability of the for-profit companies and goes to great lengths to see that the public is not made privy to the facts about these private immigration prisons.
If you or someone you know needs legal counsel or representation for any immigration-related issue, please visit the Lyttle Law Firm website or call their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.