Civil immigrant detention: Kinder and gentler, but still a boon for private prisons
Almost three years ago, after a flurry of lawsuits alleging overcrowding, shoddy medical care and the unlawful detention of children in one former prison-turned-immigrant detention center in Texas, Homeland Security officials announced they’d be reforming the immigrant detention system.
The jury is still out on how much of those planned reforms have taken root; last fall, a report put out by an international human rights organization suggested that in spite of promises to make detention centers more liveable, “the overwhelming majority of detainees are still held in jails or jail-like facilities.”
Enter what U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is calling its “first-ever designed-and-built civil detention center.” It’s in Karnes City, Texas and is owned by Karnes County, with the county acting as middleman between ICE and The Geo Group, a private prison company. As is standard practice, counties contract with these companies to develop immigrant detention centers for the government, receiving a cut of the revenue in exchange.
The development of the Karnes County Civil Detention Center, whose 608 beds have yet to be occupied, is an interesting experiment. It’s also latest development in a story that began early in the last decade, when ICE suddenly found itself with an overwhelming demand for contract detention space post-9/11 and the existing private-prison stock consisted of, well, prisons.
Read the full story at Southern California Public Radio