Washington, DC and New York, NY —Today, Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released a new report, Banking on Detention 2016 Update, that reveals for the first time that mothers and their children are jailed under guaranteed minimum bed contracts for local jails. The report shows the extent to which ICE grants financial benefits to private and public entities that detain immigrants through government contracts requiring ICE to pay for a set number of beds at detention facilities, rendering immigrants, including children and families, a source of profit for contractors.
“While the Obama administration continues to support the use of aggressive raids to unconstitutionally detain and deport immigrants, our report exposes the extent to which local lockup quotas incentivize the incarceration of immigrants and fuel ICE to pursue punitive and unjust enforcement practices,” said Silky Shah, Co-Director of Detention Watch Network. “The costs of detention are two-fold: moral and financial. American taxpayers are paying over $2 billion a year to tear apart hundreds of thousands of families across the country.”
The widespread use of local lockup quotas throughout the immigration detention system was exposed in DWN and CCR’s report, Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigrant Dragnet, in June 2015. Since then, the government has released additional documents that shed light on the continued use of local lockup quotas, covering at least 24 detention facility contracts. Today’s report updates the earlier one with new information, including uncovering a local quota at Essex County Detention Facility in New Jersey where just this week Luis Alonso Fino Martinez died for yet to be determined reasons.
The new documents reveal that guaranteed minimums account for at least 12,821 of the 34,000 beds funded by the detention bed quota, nearly 40 percent. Of these 12,821 beds, 93 percent exist in facilities that contract with private companies. Further, local lockup quotas exist for family detention facilities as well, benefitting not only private contractors like The GEO Group, but public entities that detain families as well, such as the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania.
The report also covers ICE’s ongoing lack of transparency, resistance to complying when asked to provide information, and tendency to redact information that should be publically available through the Freedom of Information Act. As a result, there is an incomplete understanding of how pervasive and harmful guaranteed minimums truly are.
“Almost all guaranteed minimums are found in facilities that contract with private prison companies, and ICE actively collaborates with these companies to keep details of their contracts secret,” said Ghita Schwarz, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The public should have a full understanding of how ICE rewards and incentivizes profiteering off the detention of immigrants.”
The report urges Congress to take steps toward ending the country’s disastrous immigration incarceration experiment by removing the national detention bed quota from the FY 2017 DHS Appropriations bill and passing the Protecting Taxpayers and Communities from Local Detention Quotas Act, which would prevent ICE from participating in any legal agreement that mandates a bed quota at a local level.
For more information, view the report here bit.ly/bankingondetention2016
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.