This afternoon former detainees brought to DC by the #Not1More Campaign, Color of Change, and BAJI confronted Jeh Johnson outside a public speaking event to demand he address the crisis inside immigrant detention and cut the department’s contracts with private prisons.
The sidewalk exchange came after the group delivered 200,000 petitions with the same demand collected by Color of Change, BAJI, Mijente and the #Not1More Campaign, CREDO, ACLU, Presente, Daily Kos, and America’s Voice as well as an organizational letter from Detention Watch Network with over 350 organizations co-signing.
Johnson had announced a departmental review of private prisons’ role in immigrant detention after the Department of Justice declared that it would be terminating its contracts with corporations that profit from imprisonment. The families, detainees, and activists gathered however say that a review is unnecessary and that the suffering they’ve experienced and the crisis their loved ones are continuing to endure inside requires immediate action.
“My son has spent over a year and three months in a privately run detention center in Georgia,” explained Cindy Barrientos, a member of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights. “I asked the Secretary to look into his case and free him because I want him home.”
Organizational representatives added earlier at the petition delivery:
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color Of Change:
“The private prison industry is a moral stain on our country’s conscience. It’s a parasitic industry that lobbies for racist, ‘tough-on-crime’ policies that target Black communities to create more business. Last month, the Department of Justice finally came to terms with these realities and announced it will stop using private prison facilities. The Department of Homeland Security should take the same step, and it should do so ahead of its report in November.
“It is an outrage that DHS is the single largest client of the private prison industry, which has a horrendous history of racism and abuse. While Black people make up 7 percent of the entire immigrant population, we account for 20 percent of immigrants who are deported or detained in these facilities. Inmates at privately managed detention centers also suffer regular abuse, though about 40 percent of sexual abuse allegations go unreported. It’s time that DHS stand up to the unconscionable practice of making money off of incarceration.”
Carl Lipscombe, BAJI Policy and Legal Manager, Black Alliance for Just Immigration:
Private prison contractors have been accused of physical and sexual violence and abuse, in addition to numerous health, safety and environmental violations. For this reason and more, private prison and immigrant detention center contracts should be cancelled.”
Jacinta Gonzalez, Field Director, Mijente/Not1More Deportation Campaign:
“Until private incarceration and detention is ended all together, corporate facilities will just be recycled between agencies. The Department of Homeland Security should make clear now that it will not be those companies replacement customer and that it too will end its part in prison profiteering,” states Jacinta Gonzalez, Field Director for Mijente on behalf of the #Not1more Deportation Campaign. “The country’s detention system represents a major crisis made worse by companies profiting from the suffering of the people kept inside. The review should investigate those facilities and address the policies and prosecutions that are unnecessarily filling them in the first place.”