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For-Profit Family Detention, Justice Strategies, 2014

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Family Detention:
Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions
By Locking Up Refugee Families

October 2014

For-Profit Family Detention: Meet the Private Prison Corporations
Making Millions by Locking Up Refugee Families
October 2014
Cristina Parker, Judy Greene, Bob Libal, and Alexis Mazón
Design & Layout:
Catherine Cunningham

Cover Photo: A sign that reads “Children need freedom and sunshine to grow” was utilized by two young protesters who needed a place to sit while
they opposed the practice of family detention on August 9th, 2014 at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. Photo by Cristina Parker

Justice Strategies and Grassroots Leadership would like to give special acknowledgement to two people whose
work has been invaluable to us as we drafted this report:
First, Carl Takei’s dedication and hard work to investigate and document human rights violations in private
segregated immigrant prisons in Texas has been an inspiration to us all.
Second, Lisa Graybill’s powerful litigation skills were critical, as were those of her co-counsels Vanita Gupta and
Barbara Hines, in the long battle to end mass detention of refugees at CCA’s T. Don Hutto prison. Her vivid memory
of the conditions she found at that facility during her first visit was very helpful. And her insights about the central
role organizers and activists played in winning the fight at Hutto are much appreciated.

Table of Contents
Introduction ... 4
Sexual abuse and neglect of children at a GEO juvenile facility in Coke County ... 5
Deliberate indifference to medical needs at a GEO-run immigrant prison in Pecos, Texas ... 6
Brutal treatment and sexual abuse of boys at GEO’s Walnut Grove facility in Mississippi ... 8
Resistance from inside: hunger strikes spread at GEO detention sites across the country	 ... 9
How do they get away with it? Private prison lobbying interests and family detention ... 10
Lessons from an experiment with family detention at the
T. Don Hutto “residential” center ... 11
References ... 17
Meet the Authors ... 18

In the summer of 2014, reports surfaced of thousands of
Central American families and children fleeing to the U.S.Mexico border to request sanctuary from violence and poverty
at home. The crisis was seized upon by politicians and pundits
alike, sparking protests against the families as well as efforts to
provide relief.
Most of the children who arrived at the border alone in the
summer of 2014 would be diverted to the Office of Refugee
Resettlement or placed with family members in the U.S. as
their cases were processed.1 But the fate of children who
arrived with their parents is much different. The unfortunate
response from the Obama Administration was ordering that
many of these refugee families be detained in immigrant
family detention centers. Before news broke of the increase of
refugees turning themselves in at the border, families awaiting
the resolution of their immigration cases would very rarely be
put into detention.

Artesia. The facility will detain a maximum of 672 women with
children ages 17 and younger with no criminal background.6
Initial reports from advocates and attorneys out of the
detention center are disturbing and indicate a lack of proper
medical care and a systematic violation of due process for
asylum seekers.7,8
Amid these troubling reports from Artesia, a second family
detention center was established in August at the Karnes
County detention center in Karnes City, Texas. ICE seemed
eager to show a “softer side of detention” at this facility, giving
invite-only, separate tours for media, local governments,
consular officials, and immigrant advocates that showcased
cartoon wall murals, stuffed animals, playgrounds, snacks, and
a hair salon.9 Beginning on August 1st, busloads of women
and children began arriving at Karnes, filling the 532-bed
facility in a matter of days.10

Like more than half of the immigrant detention beds in the
U.S., the Karnes County detention center is operated by a forprofit, private prison company — the GEO Group (GEO). GEO
has a long rap sheet of abuse, neglect,
Even so, immigrant family detention
and misconduct inside its facilities.
is not a new issue to the Obama
This report will scrutinize GEO’s
Administration. In 2009, amid intense
dismal track record with operation of
pressure from public outcry and lawsuits
facilities holding immigrants, as well
alleging human rights abuses, his
as its dreadful past history of failing to
administration ended family detention
provide vulnerable children and youths
at the T. Don Hutto detention center,
with a safe and humane custodial
operated by the Corrections Corporation
environment. We will detail how GEO
of America (CCA) in Taylor, Texas.
and its primary competitor CCA hire
They announced that no new family
the best lobbyists money can buy to
detention facilities would be opened.
pressure members of Congress and
Only 96 family detention beds remained Evidence surrounds the Karnes County Family Detention Center of how
staff in federal agencies to keep the
at a small publicly operated facility in
sudden the resurgence of family detention has been. The sign outside the contracts coming, despite their wellfacility had still not been updated as of September 17 to reflect the change
Berks County, Pennsylvania.2
documented human rights violations
in population there, from adult men to women and children. Photo by
and operational fiascos.
As the Central American refugees made Matthew Gossage
headlines across the U.S., the Obama
Finally, we will recount the debacle
Administration in July requested funding for a staggering
that resulted when in 2006 ICE contracted with CCA through
6,300 family detention beds to deal with the crisis.3 That
an intergovernmental service agreement with Williamson
request stagnated in Congress. However, the administration
County, Texas to operate a huge family detention center at
quickly set up about 1,200 family detention beds and cribs
its T. Don Hutto prison in Taylor, Texas. After many months of
in two locations — Artesia, New Mexico and Karnes City,
litigation and three years of protests, which drew national and
Texas.4 Then in September, rumors of a massive 2,400-bed
international condemnation of the inhumane conditions at
family detention facility in Dilley, Texas — to be operated by
Hutto, the Obama Administration in 2009 ended the practice
CCA under an intergovernmental service agreement with Eloy, of mass family detention at Hutto.
Arizona — were confirmed.5 In this misguided response to
the refugee crisis, President Obama has launched the largest
Meet the companies set to make millions on
family detention project in the U.S. since Japanese internment.
The first new family detention center popped up when
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) swiftly installed
one in a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in remote

the return of family detention.

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 4

Sexual abuse and neglect of children at a GEO juvenile
facility in Coke County
The track record of the GEO Group in dealing with
vulnerable populations, especially children, is of
particular concern since GEO has been contracted as
the Obama Administration ramps up family detention.
The tragic history of GEO’s Coke County Juvenile Justice
Center (CCJJC) does not bode well for GEO locking
up refugee children and their mothers in Karnes City,

A photo of the walls from the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center Audit: A Report by the Texas Youth Commission. The
report stated, “Human excrement was found floating in the [shower] drain during a September 2007 audit.” Photo from

CCJJC was shuttered in 2007, after officials discovered
the overuse of pepper spray, a lack of programming
or education, feces-smeared cells, unsanitary and
insect-infested food, and serious understaffing during
an unannounced inspection. Acting Texas Youth
Commission (TYC) director Dimitria Pope declared,
“GEO should be ashamed” of the facility. “The Coke
County Juvenile Justice Center is a disgrace,” she said.11

But GEO’s history at
Coke County had been severely troubled long before the 2007 closure. The GEO Group — then
known as the “Wackenhut Corrections Corporation” (WCC) — opened CCJJC in 1994 to house
juvenile girls in the custody of the TYC. A lawsuit filed in 1999 on behalf of the family of a girl at
the prison charged that the facility had been plagued by “multiple statutory rapes and acts of
indecency with resident children by adults” almost immediately after opening, and that “at least
four residents were statutorily raped by staff members in 1998.” 12
Sara Lowe had been sentenced to a six-month term at the facility. WCC hired Rufino Garcia, a
man who’d been arrested in 1974 for a sex offense against a child, to work as a “lead careworker”
at its Coke County prison, which then held young girls. When Garcia met Sara at Coke County in
1994, he was 39 years old. She was just 15. Garcia repeatedly sexually assaulted Sara Lowe and
several other girls, and continued to harass the girl after she was released from the facility.

Acting Texas Youth
Commission (TYC)
director Dimitria
Pope declared, “GEO
should be ashamed”
of the facility. “The
Coke County Juvenile
Justice Center is a
disgrace,” she said.

In 1996, when he pleaded guilty to two counts of indecency with a child and two counts of
sexual assault of a child (all second degree felonies), Garcia admitted that two weeks after he first
sexually assaulted Sara Lowe, he submitted a “level change” request slip for Sara, writing that “Ms. Lowe has been very positive
and has been improving every day.”13
Lowe’s family and those of 11 other girls at the facility sued WCC — alleging widespread sexual assaults at the facility. Two
WCC employees (including Garcia) pleaded guilty to criminal sexual assault charges, and the company agreed to settle the
lawsuit with the families. But Sara was incensed that Wackenhut’s top managers had been allowed to avoid any admission of
responsibility for her rapes. The day the settlement was finalized, Sara committed suicide.14

During a CBS News expose on the case, George Zoley (then the Chair and CEO of WCC who remains in those positions for the
GEO Group), was asked if his company owed an apology to Sara or any of the other girls. Zoley responded, “Not that I’m aware
of. I don’t know what you mean by that.”15
Despite the fallout of the Sarah Lowe case, the TYC continued to contract with WCC, but only to house male youths. However,
in 2007, another surprise visit, this time from TYC Ombudsman Will Harrell, revealed shocking conditions at the facility. These
included the overuse of pepper spray, a lack of programming or education, feces left spread on the walls, unsanitary and insectinfested food, and serious understaffing.16
Harrell’s revelations about the dreadful conditions were confirmed by a TYC audit later that year. By this time the company had

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 5

changed its name to the GEO Group. The facility was closed and GEO’s $8 million contract was canceled. It was revealed that
the TYC investigators assigned to monitor the prison — whose reports included few of the problems found by the state audit —
were former GEO employees.17
In their 2007 annual report, GEO’s managers did not reflect much shame, saying only:
On October 2, 2007, we received notice of the termination of our contract with the Texas Youth Commission for the
housing of juvenile inmates at the 200-bed Coke County Juvenile Justice Center located in Bronte, Texas. We are in the
preliminary stages of reviewing the termination of this contract. However, we do not expect the termination, or any
liability that may arise with respect to such termination, to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or
results of operations.18

Deliberate indifference to medical needs at a GEO-run
immigrant prison in Pecos, Texas
Just as the GEO Group is seeking to profit handily by detaining migrant parents and children currently fleeing to the United
States from Central America, the same company has already made billions of dollars incarcerating migrant border crossers over
the last 15 years.
GEO’s dreadful record of poor performance and appalling conditions in the prisons and detention facilities it operates under
contracts with the federal government includes deaths in custody, overcrowding, lack of medical care, and extreme isolation.
These abuses have been well documented at their Reeves County Detention Center in the remote West Texas town of Pecos.19
The GEO Group once proclaimed that Reeves was “the largest detention/correctional facility under private management in the
world.”20 Then in 2006, the GEO Group began contracting with the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to incarcerate immigrants at
Increasing numbers of immigrants have not only been detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention
centers, but also criminally prosecuted for immigration-related crimes and sentenced to serve time in abuse-ridden, segregated,
private prisons contracted by the federal BOP. These are called “Criminal Alien Requirements” (CAR) prisons, and Reeves is one
of them.21 Many of the individuals held at Reeves have been sentenced for the federal offense of crossing the border without
authorization or proper documentation.
That was the fate of Jesús Manuel Galindo, a 32-year old citizen of Mexico. He had lived in the U.S. since he was 13 years old,
was the husband of a U.S. citizen, and the father of three U.S. citizen children. He had re-crossed the border after a previous
deportation in order to reunite with his family on the U.S. side. However, instead of being deported again, Galindo was met
with a criminal case and a nightmare in a for-profit GEO prison. In 2008, he died at Reeves after
suffering an epileptic seizure in solitary confinement.22

Galindo was kept
isolated where he
died, far from the
fellow prisoners who
he had previously
relied on to notify
prison staff of his
seizures and medical

Galindo had been locked down in isolation for an entire month at Reeves after months of
repeated requests that the facility medical staff would adjust his medication because it was not
helping to control his epileptic seizures. According to the complaint filed in federal court by his
lawyers, the isolation wing of the prison (the “Special Housing Unit” or SHU) was frequently used
by prison and medical staff to punish and isolate prisoners who complained about deficient
medical care. Galindo was kept isolated where he died, far from the fellow prisoners who he had
previously relied on to notify prison staff of his seizures and medical needs.23
When fellow prisoners learned of Galindo’s death they became outraged and demanded an
explanation from prison officials. Upon seeing Mr. Galindo’s body being carried out of the prison
in what appeared to be a plastic bag, the prisoners erupted in protest and set fire to the recreation
yard. Their demands were: “Better treatment, better food, and better medical care.”24
Denial of medical services and deaths in custody were two of the protestors’ most serious
grievances. There were four other individuals who had died at Reeves during the two years prior
to Mr. Galindo’s death. Prisoners at Reeves engaged in a second uprising, within two months of

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 6

the first one. These uprisings led to prisoners being injured, two guards being taken hostage, and fires being set. The protests
cost the facility $20 million in damages. Some of the prisoners who participated were prosecuted.25
In 2010, Mr. Galindo’s family brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the GEO Group, the Bureau of Prisons, Reeves County, and
the prison’s medical services contractor, Physicians Network Association. The ACLU of Texas and local private counsel alleged
that the GEO Group sought to keep costs down by withholding adequate medical care.26
In 2014 the ACLU published Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants trapped in our shadow private prison system, an in-depth
survey of the dreadful conditions in five Texas-based CAR prisons, including Reeves. The ACLU report indicated that although
Galindo v. Reeves County had been settled in 2013, prisoners at Reeves continued to report a grave lack of medical care and
routine abusive treatment. Reeves’ excessive and abusive use of the SHU as a disciplinary measure continued. In interviews
at Reeves, prisoners reported to the investigators that they received only Ibuprofen even when complaining of serious
medical problems, and that, as had happened to Galindo, those who advocated for improved care were punished with solitary
Prisoners who organized a petition to protest conditions were tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and sent to the SHU. The
prison staff took away all pillows and blankets and even prevented the prisoners from having soap to remove the tear gas still
on their bodies. Petition supporters and bystanders were locked down for two days after the disturbance.
While ten percent of beds at Reeves can be designated as SHU beds, according to GEO Group’s contracts with Reeves County,
the ACLU report points out that this is nearly double the percentage in other BOP facilities. Prisoners have reported that, when
the SHU is full, two men sleep on bunks and a third sleeps on the floor. Prisoners have routinely been forced to stay in the SHU
for months without explanation. One man reported that “anything” he did lead to being locked down in the SHU.28
Overcrowding remains an enormous problem at Reeves. The “minimum occupancy guarantee” is the number of beds BOP will
pay for no matter how many beds are filled according to the terms of GEO’s contract with the BOP. This guarantee to GEO is set
at 90 percent. However, under a per-prisoner payment policy, GEO is entitled to bill BOP for filling Reeves up to 115 percent of
capacity. This has created a financial incentive for the facility to turn recreation areas into dormitories. Prisoners refer to the
resulting improvised, substandard housing units as “chicken coops.” And one of the smaller yards, meant to accommodate 40
people, is routinely filled with 400. Prisoners say the yard smells like feces because it is near the toilets. Portable latrines in
the yard have not been replaced in four years, and many prisoners report that the
contents have “splashed up” on them.29
Reeves County, the GEO Group, and the private medical contractor Physicians
Network Association have worked together to prevent the disclosure of documents
regarding prisoner deaths and medical care. The ACLU of Texas challenged their
stonewalling in 2011, seeking a court order for the release of such documents.
The Texas Attorney General issued a ruling that Reeves County had to disclose the
documents pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act. Reeves County’s response
was defiant. They filed suit to challenge the Attorney General’s determination,
arguing that the County was entitled to withhold the documents. The GEO Group
and Physicians Network Association claimed that the documents were “trade

The community came together to protest after Jesús Manuel Galindo died
from lack of medical care and neglect in the Reeves County Detention
Center in Pecos, Texas — a facility run by GEO. Photo by Bob Libal

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 7

Brutal treatment and sexual abuse of boys at GEO’s Walnut
Grove facility in Mississippi
You would think that the GEO Group would learn from their past mistakes. But apparently not.

According to a federal
judge, “The children
detained there were
‘at risk every minute,
every hour, every

In 2012 Federal District Judge Carleton Reeves found that GEO was running one of the worst forprofit youth prisons in the U.S. In his 2012 court order, Judge Reeves wrote that the Walnut Grove
juvenile detention center was, “a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the
civilized world.”31
In his sweeping, scathing decision, the judge also called Walnut Grove, which held children as
young as 13, “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” Guards subjected children to
excessive violence including beatings, kicking, and punching of handcuffed and defenseless
youth. Youth were also frequently pepper sprayed.
The Court found that the guards regularly sexually assaulted children, and that the juvenile
detention center’s record on brutal rapes among prisoners was the worst “of any facility anywhere
in the nation” (Court’s emphasis). The children detained there were “at risk every minute, every
hour, every day.”32

An exposé of conditions at Walnut Grove conducted by National Public Radio revealed that
guards were setting up “gladiator-style” fights between the children. One former youth detainee reported, “They actually bet on
it. It was payday for the guards.”33
Judge Reeves held that the GEO Group facility violated the Constitution, as well as many state and federal criminal and civil
laws. Children were denied even the most basic access to education and necessary medical care. Children who tried to file
complaints or report conditions at Walnut Grove were subjected to solitary confinement and other harsh forms of retaliation.34
The Court forcefully reprimanded the state of Mississippi for not only
allowing the GEO Group to get away with the routine barbaric treatment of
children, but for rewarding the company with renewals of its contracts:
And to add one final insult to these injuries, State officials repeatedly failed
to monitor the contracts with GEO and simply rewarded the company by
either extending or offering new contracts, or by not revoking the existing
contract despite “systemic, egregious, and dangerous practices exacerbated
by a lack of accountability and controls.”35
The Court ultimately ordered that children be transferred out of Walnut
Grove, to a publicly-run juvenile detention center in Mississippi. GEO’s
contract for Walnut Grove was cancelled and the state re-contracted with
another private prison corporation.

The abuse and retaliation found in GEO’s facilities for adults were familiar to the children
in the Mississippi Walnut Grove juvenile detention center. Children who tried to file
complaints or report conditions at Walnut Grove were subjected to solitary confinement
and other harsh forms of retaliation, including beatings. Photo by Jason Cato

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 8

Resistance from inside: hunger strikes spread at GEO
detention sites across the country
Given GEO’s track record with immigrants and
vulnerable populations, it was no surprise when
two GEO Group immigrant detention centers
operated under contracts with ICE were the
subjects of repeated hunger strikes in 2014.
The hunger strikers exposed serious neglect
and mistreatment inside the GEO immigrant
detention facilities, including a cost-saving
scheme inside for-profit detention centers that
exploits detainee labor.
The first hunger strike began on March 7, 2014
at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in
Tacoma, Washington. It was a massive resistance
involving 1,200 people that lasted 56 days.36
The strike drew international media attention
and prompted Rep. Adam Smith to introduce
legislation that sought to improve conditions
inside detention centers.37
Despite retaliation tactics such as the use of
solitary confinement that hunger strikers faced
This note passed from a man detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA to his lawyer details the demands of
during the first strike, a second strike began
those who on strike beginning on March 7th, 2014. A second hunger strike at the Joe Corley detention center in Conroe, Texas
began eleven days later. Photo courtesy of NWDC (Northwest Detention Center) Resistance
in Tacoma on July 30 involving 150 detainees,
according to supporters.38 Detainees charged that
conditions inside had not improved since the first strike. This strike also drew attention to the
practice of paying detainees $1 a day or less for providing labor essential to sustaining detention
Eleven days into
center operations – a practice which some assert violates the 13th Amendment, banning
involuntary servitude except as punishment for crime.
the first Tacoma
The Tacoma strikers faced retaliation for the second hunger strike also. The Seattle Globalist
reported that during the second hunger strike, detainee Cipriano Ríos-Alegría, one of the spring
hunger strike participants, was placed in isolation for “trying to recruit other detainees for [sic]
hunger strike,” according to an internal Administrative Detention Order. Placing a detainee in
isolation for participating in a hunger strike was in direct violation of an agreement that was
reached between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Columbia Legal Services and
NWDC officials during the first hunger strike.40
Eleven days into the first Tacoma hunger strike with its widespread media attention, detainees
launched a hunger strike at the Joe Corley Detention Facility (JCDF), a second GEO facility located
in Conroe, Texas.41
The grievances of those detainees were familiar and may suggest a pattern inside GEO detention
centers. Like their counterparts in Tacoma, the hunger strikers in Texas complained of bad food,
lack of medical care, poor treatment at the hands of guards, and high prices for phone calls and

hunger strike with its
widespread media
attention, detainees
launched a hunger
strike at the Joe
Corley Detention
Facility a second GEO
facility located in
Conroe, Texas.

Family members of detainees on hunger strike in JCDF reported that officials retaliated against three detainees who they
believed to be “leaders” of the protest by isolating and shackling them and scheduling one man for swift deportation.43

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 9

How do they get away with it? Private prison lobbying
interests and family detention
How do for-profit, private prison companies with terrible track records keep piling up federal contracts?

GEO Group and CCA
have employed an
impressive mix of
influential Republican
and Democratic
lobbyists, including
former high-ranking
DHS officials... The
results are bipartisan
and formidable.

A timeworn adage says “money talks.” And a handful of the most powerful lobbyists on Capitol
Hill do the talking for GEO, as well as for their competitor Corrections Corporation of America. As
will be recounted below, CCA was the operator of a disastrous experiment with mass detention of
immigrant families that was closed down by the Obama Administration just five years ago.
Since 2003, CCA and the GEO Group have combined to spend more than $32 million lobbying
the federal government, including direct lobbying of the Department of Homeland Security,
the agency responsible for contracts to detain immigrant families.44 GEO Group and CCA have
employed an impressive mix of influential Republican and Democratic lobbyists, including former
high-ranking DHS officials.
CCA, which spent $2 million on lobbyists in 2013, currently employs a stable of high-powered
firms including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, McBee Strategic Consulting, and Mehlman,
Castaganetti, Rosen, Bingel, & Thomas. The results are bipartisan and formidable. Akin lobbyist
Ed Pagano has a long history working for Democratic lawmakers, recently serving in the Obama
Administration and, before that, working for more than two decades for Senator Patrick Leahy’s
offices,45 while Gump’s James Romney Tucker, Jr. has a long history as a Republican Congressional
staffer, including stints in the offices of Representatives Bob Inglis and Newt Gingrich.

GEO’s current lobbyists include Lionel “Leo” Aguirre, Navigators Global LLC, and the Ridge Policy Group, named for and headed
by former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.
GEO’s most consistent lobbyist is Aguirre, a Texan who has been on the company’s payroll since at least 2008. Aguirre also
lobbies on behalf of GEO in his home state. He is the widower of Lena Guerrero, a three-term Texas state representative and the
first Latina chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, the powerful agency in charge of regulating the oil and gas industry. Lionel
himself was an executive in the state comptroller’s office before moving into the private sector.46 Aguirre and Guerrero both
crossed party lines in 2006 to endorse Rick Perry for Texas governor.47
The Ridge Policy Group, another of GEO’s current lobbyists, is headed by Tom Ridge, the first head of the Department of
Homeland Security, the agency responsible for the contract with GEO to detain families in Karnes City.
Ridge is not the first former DHS official to lobby for GEO Group. GEO
subsidiary BI Incorporated for years employed Julie Myers Wood, the past
head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as a lobbyist. Myers
Wood is now a board member of GEO Group.48
Lobbyists for GEO Group at Navigator’s Global LLC include Christopher
Cox, a former President George W. Bush administration official and
Danielle Burr, a former Senate Whip Liaison working for Republican
Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.49
Past lobbyists for CCA and GEO included those from across the political
spectrum. Following President Obama’s election, both companies
employed the liberal Podesta Group, which describes its founder
and chief Tony Podesta as “one of the Democratic Party’s top political
strategists.”50 John Kaites, a former Republican legislator from Arizona,
served as a GEO lobbyist for several years in the mid-2000s.51
A rally against family detention outside the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas on
August 9, 2014. The rally marked the five year anniversary of the end of family detention at
Hutto. Photo by Cristina Parker

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 10

Lessons from an experiment with family detention at the
T. Don Hutto “residential” center
After the terrorism disaster of 9/11, the U.S. government acted to tighten
border security, many features of which amounted to nothing more than
a massive crackdown on ordinary people crossing our Southern border
to seek a better life for themselves and their families. In 2002, Congress
created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), replacing the former
Immigration and Naturalization Service with Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), and pulling in a number of other federal agencies (e.g.,
the Coastguard; the Secret Service) previously located in other federal
DHS then launched a massive buildup
of enforcement capacity between 2003
and 2006, with a focus on increased
apprehension of border-crossers, increased
detention space to hold them, and
Children protest the detention of families at T. Don Hutto during the first 100 days of
Barack Obama’s presidency. There were 100 different actions against the practice during implementation of “zero tolerance” policies
along the border. In June 2003, ICE issued
those first 100 days. The days of family detention at Hutto remain ingrained in the
memories of the people who have advocated against it from the beginning. Unknown
Operation Endgame, their strategic plan for
removing all “fugitive aliens” from the United
The ramp-up in detention capacity was sped up in 2004, when the Intelligence Reform and
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 contained authorization for 40,000 new immigrant detention
beds to be available by 2010. In January 2005, Representative Sensenbrenner and five House
Committee chairs sent a letter to President Bush demanding a doubling of the number of Border
Patrol agents, a tripling of immigration investigators, and the addition of 60,000 new detention
beds.53 In November of that year ICE announced the “Secure Border Initiative,” entailing proposals
for expanding the border wall, creating a virtual fence, and adding thousands more detention

Families seeking
asylum were detained
with their children for
11 to 12 hours each
day in small cells with
open toilets. No food
or toys were allowed
in the cells. Children
wore prison garb.
They were disciplined
for normal childhood
activities (running
around, making
noise, etc.).

By the summer of 2006, ICE had engineered a massive expansion of detention bed capacity, most
of which was contracted with private prison companies.54 In the midst of the summer detention bed ramp-up, ICE announced
the end of its “catch and release” policy at the border with Mexico. The practice of “catch and release” of non-Mexican (i.e.,
Central American) border crossers had existed for many years. The majority of individuals and families apprehended when
crossing the U.S. border with Mexico were simply given a “notice to appear” before an immigration judge and released from
custody to continue to their intended destinations within the U.S.55
In February 2007 Michael Chertoff explained this policy shift to Congress in terms that eerily prefigure claims made seven years
later during the 2014 “border crisis” involving Central American youth and families crossing the border:
Importantly, we ended a pernicious practice called “catch and release’’ at the border, in which we used to release large
numbers of non-Mexicans into the community. There was a story in the New York Times a few days ago that talked
about how it was such a received wisdom that non-Mexicans would be released in order to disappear that people
actually were told to turn themselves into the Border Patrol as soon as they crossed the border because it would mean
that they could then make their way to the interior conveniently. We have reversed and ended that practice at the
border, and this has begun to show some real results.56
Before July 2006, the daily detention population was averaging about 19,000 people in custody. By the end of September it had
swelled to 27,521. In May 2006, CCA had received its most lucrative ICE contract ever after the company repurposed an empty

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 11

prison, its T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas – a small town less than an hour’s drive north of the state capitol in Austin – to
serve as a detention facility for families with children.
CCA’s Hutto facility had previously been operated by the company as a medium-security prison for men, and from early reports
of the operation as a detention center for families, it appears that the company had given little thought to the kind of changes
and accommodations that would be needed for its repurposing for families. Vanita Gupta was a lead counsel in In re Hutto
for the ACLU, which sued the facility along with the University of Texas’ Immigration Law Clinic. According to Gupta, CCA was
receiving $2.8 million per month from ICE to detain families at Hutto, yet there was no evidence that the kind of conditions and
services appropriate for families with small children were available:
Hutto was a prison, and ICE could call it a residential center, but there is nothing, when you first look at Hutto, but
certainly when you enter and start speaking to people, that could disguise the fact that it was a prison.57
Lisa Graybill, then legal director at the Texas ACLU58 and co-counsel with Gupta, had the same reaction when she first visited
From the minute we set foot on the grounds at Hutto, we could see that it was, as it had always been, a mediumsecurity prison. The huge whorls of barbed wire on the perimeter fences; parents and small children garbed in prison
uniforms – but beyond the optics, it was a prison.
CCA was running the place using prison protocols – not even like a juvenile institution, though the place was full of
kids. It looked like they had made no effort to recruit appropriate staff for a family detention center. The guards were
just prison guards; the warden was a prison warden; and the families were treated exactly like prisoners.
The guards were doing seven “counts” a day, during which all movement within the prison had to be stopped, while
parents and children had to wait in their cells to be counted. Parents were told that their children could not have
crayons in the cells, or juice boxes, “because they can be used to make alcohol.” Children could not run; they could not
play freely; they could not cry; they could not do any of the normal things that kids do.
Mealtimes were restricted to 15 or 20 minutes. Can you imagine trying to feed dinner to a toddler, while eating
yourself, in 15 minutes? Both parents and children were losing weight.
Even the children understood that they were being treated like criminals. They kept asking their parents, “What did we
do wrong to be put in here?” Some of the children had started a sort of cops-and-robbers game, but at Hutto it was
called “Guards and Detainees” with the guards yelling at the detainees.
Parents were required to have their young children with them during “credible fear” interviews. Having to talk about
the horrendous details of the torture and abuse they had fled from in their home country was like reliving it again, but
with their children watching.
We had to do something – a purely visceral reaction – because conditions at Hutto were appalling. They were just
categorically unacceptable.59

At Hutto, it appears
that CCA had given
little thought to the
kind of changes and
accommodations that
would be needed for
its repurposing for

The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children and the Lutheran Immigration
and Refugee Service published a report in 2007 that reflected the same appalling conditions.
Families seeking asylum were detained with their children for 11 to 12 hours each day in small
cells with open toilets. No food or toys were allowed in the cells. Children wore prison garb.
They were disciplined for normal childhood activities (running around, making noise, etc.). Some
were threatened by guards that if they did not behave, they would be sent away, separated
permanently from their parents. Parents that could not control these behaviors were threatened
with “write ups,” which they were told could affect their claim in court for asylum.60
Children were getting less than on hour a day of recreation and many children were seldom
being allow outdoors; Gupta had spoken to children who had not been outside in four or five
Education was initially limited to one hour a day. After protests were raised, ICE made CCA
extend daily education hours to four, but this was still barely in compliance with Texas state
education standards. Access to medical care was often difficult or delayed. Access to free legal
counsel was hit-or-miss, and access to telephone calls required purchase of expensive phone

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 12

Detained mothers reported appalling conditions to their attorneys:
My daughters and I share a small cell. We all have to use the toilet in front of each other and right next to our beds. [My
daughters] are forced to wear prison clothes... They wear the same clothes all day, including to sleep and to recreation.
(Rasa Bunikiene)62
They wake us at 5:45 or 5:30am. And at 6 a.m. we have to have finished bathing ourselves. After that we have to eat in
20 minutes, then return to the pod to do nothing, they don’t allow us to sleep, only to sit and wait for the hours, days,
months to pass. (Elsa Carbajal)63
We have lost our religion in here. Our religion requires that we pray at certain times of the day, but we have to go to
rec[reation] or chow at each of those times. The guards rush my children through meals. When Bahja was having
problems with another girl at rec time, the guards and our social worker told me that they would take my children
away from me if I could not control them… (Deka Warsame)64
At Hutto it is difficult for me to take care of Sherona the way a mother should. The family here is destroyed. We live in a
prison. It is a prison. There is no freedom. (Delourdes Verdieu)65
When you’re in Hutto, you feel like prison, you are a criminal, that you did something bad, that people are after you,
they put you in these clothes. These guards they treat you like you are in prison. (Bahja)66
Within months of the conversion of the CCA prison into the family “residential” detention center,
human rights advocates and activists in Texas and across the U.S. were fiercely criticizing the
move by ICE to detain families instead of providing a more humane alternative, and they were
denouncing the deficiencies in CCA’s operations.
Existing groups formed new coalitions, such as the Austin-based Texans United for Families
(TUFF), coordinated by Grassroots Leadership. Near-monthly vigils were held at the facility site
by a broad spectrum of religious and civil rights organizations. As grassroots opposition spread
across the state, local media coverage blossomed into national media stories profiling individual
cases of children that had been confined at the prison. At the same time, grassroots media
helped to spawn a broader network of activists. A Hutto blog documented the vigils. Email lists
circulated flyers and announcements. Film makers produced a 17-minute video expose, Hutto:
America’s Family Prison.67 TUFF developed a DVD toolkit for broad distribution. The video and
related documents facilitated workshops to highlight the issue of family detention at national

“At Hutto it is difficult
for me to take care
of Sherona the way
a mother should.
The family here is
destroyed. We live
in a prison. It is a
prison. There is no
- Delourdes Verdieu.

In May 2007, Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of
Migrants, was denied access to the prison. He had planned to inspect conditions there and to report his findings to the UN
General Assembly the following month. DHS’ move sparked yet more protests and media coverage.68
In late August 2007, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to a settlement of the lawsuit. While the plaintiff’s lawyers
remained opposed to the very concept of family detention, they agreed that the conditions at Hutto had been raised to an
acceptable standard:
Conditions at Hutto have gradually and significantly improved as a result of the groundbreaking litigation. Children
are no longer required to wear prison uniforms and are allowed much more time outdoors. Educational programming
has expanded and guards have been instructed not to discipline children by threatening to separate them from their
The improvement effort under the settlement would continue under the eyes of an independent monitor:
Additional improvements ICE will be required to make as a result of the settlement include allowing children over the
age of 12 to move freely about the facility; providing a full-time, on-site pediatrician; eliminating the count system
so that families are not forced to stay in their cells 12 hours a day; installing privacy curtains around toilets; offering
field trip opportunities to children; supplying more toys and age-and language-appropriate books; and improving
the nutritional value of food. ICE must also allow regular legal orientation presentations by local immigrants’ rights
organizations; allow family and friends to visit Hutto detainees seven days a week; and allow children to keep paper
and pens in their rooms. ICE’s compliance with each of these reforms, as well as other conditions reforms, will be
subject to external oversight to ensure their permanence.69

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 13

But the broad coalition of human rights activists did not lose momentum after the settlement of the litigation. The monthly
vigils continued. The Least of These, a feature-length documentary about the ACLU’s lawsuit against ICE was premiered at
Austin’s South by Southwest film festival. The documentary was shown at international film festivals and – most importantly –
to an audience of members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Finally, in August
2009, DHS conceded
the hard-fought
battle, announcing
the end of family
detention at Hutto.
The last family
was released on
September 17, 2009,
three years and four
months after the
family detention
facility was opened
for business, and
more than two years
after the ACLU case
was settled.

In December 2007 one hundred people marched to the prison entrance carrying toys for
the children and chanting, “Free the Children Now!” and “Close Hutto Down!”70 The national
media spotlight also remained strongly focused on the issues of family detention. Margaret
Talbot published a major feature article in the New Yorker in March 2008. The Lost Children
traced the flawed policies introduced by DHS that had spurred an overall increase in detention
of immigrants in 2006. She detailed the horrific conditions at Hutto, and she pointed to the
effectiveness of non-carceral alternatives that could be used instead of family detention.
In the Fall of 2008 the issue of family detention fell under international scrutiny, when a
delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights traveled to Austin on a factfinding mission to investigate the treatment of immigrant families and asylum seekers at Hutto.
The Commission monitors compliance with international human rights standards and laws under
the aegis of the Organization of American States, of which the U.S. is a member.71
Later that year, when the “intergovernmental agreement”72 between Williamson County and ICE
was up for renewal, organizers urged residents who opposed family detention at Hutto to make
their views known to their county commissioners.
During the first 100 days of the Obama Administration in 2009, organizers from around the
country organized 100 different protests and educational events urging the new administration
to end the practice of detaining immigrant families at Hutto. Finally, in August 2009, DHS
conceded the hard-fought battle, announcing the end of family detention at Hutto.73 The
last family was released on September 17, 2009, three years and four months after the family
detention facility was opened for business, and more than two years after the ACLU case was
settled. In October ICE announced that henceforth CCA’s T. Don Hutto prison would house only
women detainees.74

Graybill says that community organizing was key in forcing ICE to reverse its policy of large-scale family detention at Hutto:
Working with the community organizers and their campaign to close the Hutto prison was the most gratifying part of
our work as litigators. Working in relationship with people on the ground – the community organizing was absolutely
invaluable; an irreplaceable part of the effort. And, of course, that partnership is really what it took to end confinement
of families at Hutto.
The monthly vigils at the prison were so incredibly powerful. Having members of the community – moms with their
babies, church folks, people who didn’t realize what was being done in their community’s back yard – bear witness to
this injustice was a vivid message to public officials. And the work that the organizers did to inform the public and to
pressure the public officials in Williamson County about the role the county was playing to facilitate this nightmare.
The public really hadn’t known what was going on; they didn’t realize that county officials had actually signed a
contract with CCA to act as intermediary between ICE and CCA, to disburse the federal funds.
Organizers enlisted state officials and grassroots party members to introduce local resolutions calling for the end of
family detention at Hutto. They were able to raise the profile of the issues in the county, with state reps – even at the
international level, and to bring the language of human rights into the debate.
It was the constant pressure at the facility, month after month, that finally ended family detention at Hutto.

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 14

Déjà vu at Karnes: Outcry over denial of treatment to a
seven-year-old girl with brain cancer
Fast forward to August 2014 in Karnes City, Texas. A contract with GEO to hold immigrant families
in detention was fast-tracked in response to the latest human rights crisis at the border – children
and families were fleeing to the U.S.-Mexico border because of extreme poverty, violence,
and terror in their home countries in Central America. Who could be surprised that there was
controversy over access to medical treatment at the Karnes County family detention center
almost from the day it was opened?
Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracted with GEO through an Intergovernmental
Service Agreement with Karnes County, Texas to detain 532 women and children from Central
America there who had arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border during the summer of 2014. The facility
managers wasted no time moving out the current occupants, male immigrant detainees, and
then quickly re-painting the walls with cartoon characters and installing cribs. On August 1, buses
began arriving and the facility was full of mothers and their children within a matter of weeks.75
Less than a month after the hasty start-up, word got out about a seven-year-old girl named
Nayely Beltrán who was detained with her mother, Sara, at Karnes. The mother and daughter had
fled violence in El Salvador and had passed their credible fear interview, the first hurdle in the
process of seeking asylum in the U.S. Nayely had been battling brain cancer and medical doctors,
their attorney, and immigrant rights advocates had all asked ICE and GEO to release the family.
Three U.S. medical doctors wrote to ICE about the fact that Nayely’s life was in danger and she
was in need of immediate treatment for her malignant brain tumor, but immigration authorities
still kept the family locked up at Karnes.76

Three U.S. medical
doctors wrote to
ICE about the fact
that Nayely’s life
was in danger and
she was in need of
immediate treatment
for her malignant
brain tumor, but
authorities still kept
the family locked up
at Karnes.

GEO Group stands to make $298 per day for every woman and child detained at Karnes.77 It has
been reported by attorneys working in the facility that the government has been operating under a “no bond” policy at Karnes
— they are not releasing anyone, even those who, like Sara and Nayely, have demonstrated a credible fear of persecution should
they be deported, and whose asylum claims will be heard in immigration court.78 This means that family detention at Karnes is a
comfortably reliable source of revenue for the GEO Group.
Immigrant families are finding it very difficult to get themselves out of the Karnes facility. It took the combined efforts the
Beltráns’ attorney, three U.S. medical doctors, and
immigrant rights advocates to secure their release.
After advocates in Austin began a campaign to release
Nayely and Sara, hundreds of people around the country
flooded Karnes, GEO, and ICE with phone calls. Shortly
after the story was picked up by the media, ICE relented
and released the girl for treatment to doctors at the Dell
Children’s Hospital. Nayely and Sara had spent a month
in detention.79 This incident may not bode well for the
health of the more than 500 women and children who
are still detained at Karnes.

An image shared on social media by organizers of Texans United for Families after the successful campaign to get Sara
and Nayely Beltrán out of detention at Karnes. Nayely, who is only 7, was being denied treatment for her brain tumor
while detained. Photos courtesy of Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

On October 2, news broke about allegations of sexual
abuse in Karnes. 80 A complaint filed by the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)
and attorneys from the University of Texas School of
Law said that “substantial, ongoing sexual abuse” was
happening inside Karnes. Marisa Bono, staff attorney
with MALDEF told NBC News that “Guards using their
respective positions of power to abuse vulnerable,

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 15

traumatized women all over again is not only despicable, it’s against the law. This is exactly why the federal government should
not be in the business of detaining families.”81
For their part, the GEO Group presented an optimistic take on family detention as a new revenue stream and are hoping to cash
in at Karnes and at yet-unnamed facilities this year. When GEO was awarded a contract to detain men at Karnes in 2010, the
company estimated that the facility would bring in $15 million in annual revenue.82 However, during the 2014 Second Quarter
“earnings call” (a teleconference for shareholders held on August 6, 2014), GEO Group CEO George Zoley said, “We expect to see
a meaningful contribution from [Karnes] as we go forward under that fixed-price contract.” Zoley told shareholders that GEO
Group expects to bring in $26 million in annual revenues by locking up women and children asylum-seekers inside the Karnes
County family detention center. “And,” he continued, “There’s, to our understanding, a need for more capacity by ICE for similar
type services at different locations.”83

The GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America have exceptionally troubled histories when operating facilities
detaining children, immigrants, and families. The unprecedented move to expand immigrant family detention – largely relying
on these same for-profit prison corporations – raises many concerns about ICE’s policies related to asylum-seeking families.
Yet not only has ICE contracted with GEO for detention of families at their Karnes facility, but in September 2014 they
announced a massive 2,400-bed contract with CCA. The company will convert a “man camp” for oilfield workers into the largest
family detention center to date.84 Lisa Graybill was shocked to learn of this move:
When I heard about the Dilley contract, I just could not believe that they – the Obama Administration – was going
back to this dreadful policy. Over the summer, when I heard about the quick installation of a family detention center
at Artesia, New Mexico, and then the quick conversion at Karnes, I thought to myself, “This is terrible but it is a just
temporary response to the border crisis; it’s a stopgap.”
But, when I heard that ICE had signed a 2,400 bed facility contract with CCA at Dilley, I realized that this is going to be a
long-term, permanent commitment. Family detention is going to be the long-term policy.
I find this just devastating. Not a temporary “fix.” Not a stopgap. We’re talking about this Administration making a
permanent commitment to large-scale family detention.
ICE should immediately suspend plans to enter into a contract for a family detention center in Dilley, Texas to be operated by
Corrections Corporation of America. DHS should roll back the policy of mass
family detention center by moving to close the GEO Group-operated family
detention center in Karnes City, Texas as well
as the government-operated facility in Artesia,
New Mexico. Resources should instead
“I find this just
be directed towards refugee resettlement
services and legal resources to ensure due
devastating. ...
process for families in detention.
We’re talking about

this Administration
making a permanent
commitment to
large-scale family
- Attorney Lisa

DHS should prioritize alternatives to detaining
immigrant families, particularly those that
provide community support for immigrant
families. Research shows that alternatives to
detention programs – when coupled by legal
and social support programs – can be effective Construction on the facade of the Karnes County Family Detention Center in September
2014. The facility is currently under construction and rumored to be preparing to
in insuring that immigrants appear at their
immigration hearings and can be operated at double its current capacity. Photo by Matthew Gossage
a fraction of the cost of custodial detention.

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 16


“New Family Detention Centers Hold Immigrant Women and
Children Without Bond as Asylum Claims Pend,” Democracy Now!
August 14, 2014


“Family Detention 101,” Detention Watch Network, July 15, 2014


“Action Alert: Stop the Detention of Families” July 22, 2014. http://



Forest Wilder. Feds Set to Open Massive New Family Detention
Center in November, The Texas Observer, http://www.texasobserver.




Miss. Prison Operator Out; Facility Called A ‘Cesspool, ‘ John
Burnett, NPR, April 24, 2012, available at http://www.npr.

Immigrant detainees on hunger strike allege threats by guards,
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Women’s Commission and LIRS


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at Immigrant Detention Centers” The Stranger, May 8, 2014. http://

Second Declaration of Rasa Bunikiene. In Saule Bunikiene v. Michael
Chertoff, Julie Myers, John Torres Marc Moors, Gary Mead, Simon
Colon, and John Pogash. March 18, 2007.


Declaration of Elsa Carbajal . In Richard Anderson Tome Carbajal
and Angelina Juliet, Tome Carbajal v. Michael Chertoff, Julie Myers,
John Torres Marc Moors, Gary Mead, Simon Colon, and John Pogash.
March 1, 2007.


Second Declaration of Deka Warsame. In Mohammed Ibrahim, Bahja
Ibrahim, and Aisha Ibrahim v. Michael Chertoff, Julie Myers, John
Torres Marc Moors, Gary Mead, Simon Colon, and John Pogash.
March 18, 2007.


Declaration of Delourdes Verdieu. In Sherona Verdieu v. Michael
Chertoff, Julie Myers, John Torres Marc Moors, Gary Mead, Simon
Colon, and John Pogash March 18, 2007.


From Hutto: America’s Family Prison. Directed by Lily Keber and
Matt Gossage. Available at




Patricia J. Ruland, “T. Don Hutto: Homeland Security bars U.N.
Inspector.” Austin Spectator, May 11, 2007


ACLU press release. (August 27, 2007). “ACLU Urges Congress to
End Policy of Detaining Immigrant Children.” Washington, DC


Greg Moses. “Crossing the line in Texas.” Counterpunch, December
17, 2007


“Rights group looks into care of immigrants at Taylor center,” Austin
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In other words, a contract that allowed ICE to avoid contracting
directly with CCA.


Nina Bernstein. “U.S. to reform policy on detention for immigrants.”
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Immigrant families not treated properly” Albuquerque Journal,
August 3, 2014.


Feds start ‘no bond’ policy on immigrants at Karnes” San Antonio
Express-News, August 27, 2014.


Feds release 7-year-old immigrant girl with cancer for treatment”
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The GEO Group (GEO), “GEO Group Announces Contract for
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for negotiation” Seattle Globalist, August 7, 2014. http://www.


“Using Jailed Migrants as a Pool of Cheap Labor” New York Times,
May 24, 2014.


“Tensions rise at Tacoma detention center, with little room
for negotiation” Seattle Globalist, August 7, 2014. http://www.


“Hunger strikes spread to Texas detention center, Systemic abuse by
GEO Group and ICE exposed in multi-state effort by detainees in
private facilities,” San Francisco Bay View, March 19, 2014. http://

U.S. Moves to Stop Surge in Illegal Immigration, The New York Times,
June 20, 2014,


Softer side of immigrant detention shown in Texas,” Associated Press,
August 1, 2014


As family detention begins at Karnes, T. Don Hutto is the site
of a protest,” Texas Prison Bidness, August 12, 2014. http://www.



“TYC checking backgrounds of prison’s workers,” Associated Press,
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Breaking: Hunger Strikes Spread to Texas Detention Center, March 17,




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Will Harrell, Office of Independent Ombudsman for TYC, Site Visit
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Data compiled from lobbyist disclosure forms maintained at the
website of the Senate Office of Public Records (http://soprweb. indicates that
Corrections Corporation of America has spent more than $29 million
lobbying since 2003 while the GEO Group has spent at least $3.6
million since 2003 in the same period. These figures do not include
lobbying expenditures by the company’s GEO Group’s subsidiaries,
including BI Incorporated, which also has substantial contracts with
the Department of Homeland Security.


Swanson, Doug J., “TYC investigates staff for ties to jail operator,”
Dallas Morning News, October 6, 2007. Retrieved from http://www.



“Ed Pagano”


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Watchdog, June 15, 2009

The GEO Group. 2007 Annual Report. Pg. 12.


Complaint, GALINDO V. REEVES COUNTY, No. 3:12-cv-00063DB-NJG (W.D. Tex. Dec. 7, 2010), available at

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Ties That Bind: Arizona Politicians and the Private Prison Industry”
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its website in 2007, a copy of the strategic plan remains available in
the online archives of the ACLU, at







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Warehoused and Forgotten








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Personal communication, note on file with the authors.



Advocate worries about sick immigrants in Artesia, KRQE, http://

The BOP began contracting for “CAR” prisons in 2000. The
solicitation for “CAR 5,” which was awarded to GEO at Reeves, can be
found at:





Graybill is now a lecturer at the Sturm College of Law of the
University of Denver.


Artesia center set to house women, children,” Carlsbad CurrentArgus, June 26, 2014

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Award for the Housing of Criminal Aliens at the 3,556-bed Reeves
County Detention Center Under CAR 5, June 1, 2006, available at







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on February 28, 2007 at


“ACLU Challenges Prison-Like Conditions at Hutto Detention

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 17

About the authors:
Cristina Parker is the immigration projects coordinator of Grassroots Leadership. She grew up in the border town of El Paso,
Texas and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Journalism and Political Science. After she graduated she
landed an internship through the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. She then worked as a copy editor for the Houston Chronicle and
as the Communications Director for the Border Network for Human Rights before coming to Grassroots Leadership to lead the
Immigration Projects team. In less than a year at Grassroots Leadership, Cristina has been able to raise awareness and organize
hundreds of people to fight against the return of family detention and the Secure Communities initiative in Travis County.
Judith Greene is a criminal justice policy analyst, a founding partner, and director of Justice Strategies, a project of the Tides
Center. Justice Strategies is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to providing analysis and solutions to advocates and
policymakers pursuing more humane and cost-effective approaches to criminal justice and immigration reform. From 1985 to
1993 Judith Greene was Director of Court Programs at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she was responsible for planning and
development of a variety of demonstration programs designed to improve the efficacy of both pretrial release and sentencing
practices. Subsequently she served as program director for the State- Centered Program of the Edna McConnell Clark
Foundation, and as a research associate for the RAND Corporation, and a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota
Law School. In 1999 she received a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute.
Ms. Greene’s articles on criminal sentencing issues, police practices, correctional policy and prison privatization have
appeared in numerous publications, including The American Prospect, Corrections Today, Crime and Delinquency, Current
Issues in Criminal Justice, The Federal Sentencing Reporter, The Index on Censorship, Judicature, The Justice Systems Journal,
Overcrowded Times, Prison Legal News, The Rutgers Law Journal, and The Wake Forest Law Review. Her work has been cited
in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as in hundreds of local newspapers across the
nation. She has also presented legislative testimony on sentencing and corrections policy in California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Texas and before Congressional committees.
Bob Libal is Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. He has worked for more than a decade on issues of prison
privatization, immigration detention, and criminal justice reform. Bob is author or co-author of many reports and articles for
Grassroots Leadership including Operation Streamline: Costs and Consequences and The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate
About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America. He serves on the steering committee of the national Detention Watch
Network and edits the Texas Prison Bid’ness blog.
Bob is regularly interviewed by national, regional, and local press on issues related to prison privatization, immigration
detention, immigration enforcement policies, and the business of prisons. He has been interviewed for the New York Times, NPR,
Business Week, Huffington Post, and numerous other local, state, and national media outlets.
Alexis Mazón is a Researcher with Justice Strategies. She has conducted action-oriented criminal justice and immigration
policy research and advocacy for the past 13 years. In her previous position at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and
Education, she researched and developed a popular education curriculum on barriers Latino immigrants and African Americans
encounter in the labor market. While at the City of Tucson Public Defender’s Office, she formulated defense strategies on behalf
of clients facing criminal charges and potential immigration detention and deportation. As a Loren Warboys Fellow at the Youth
Law Center in San Francisco, she advocated on behalf of immigrant youth and youth profiled as “gang affiliated” in the U.S.
juvenile justice and immigration detention systems. She has a BA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and a JD
from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root Tilden Public Interest Scholar.

For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 18


For-Profit Family Detention | October 2014 | 19

A .pdf of this document is also available on the Grassroots Leadership website.

For-Profit Family Detention:

Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions
By Locking Up Refugee Families

For more information, please contact Grassroots Leadership at: or (512) 499-8111
Twitter: @Grassroots_News