Senate Democrats target private immigration facilities over poor conditions, failed inspections
Following a government watchdog report exposing serious—and possibly deadly—violations at a private immigration prison in California, nearly one dozen Senate Democrats, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have called on two of the nation’s largest private prison profiteers to hand over information regarding their prisons, including “their inspection records and results of audits, information about deficiencies cited in the reviews, as well as evidence that they have been or are being addressed.”
“In their letters to GEO Group and CoreCivic,” a statement from Warren’s office read, “the senators outlined how the companies’ aggressive lobbying efforts to promote immigration policies that boost their profits have largely paid off, noting that the Trump Administration’s immigration agenda has filled private facilities with migrant adults and children. The senators also pointed out that GEO Group has received $560 million in federal contracts in the last two fiscal years, while CoreCivic has received contracts worth $225 million to manage ICE immigration detention facilities since 2017.”
That’s $560 million for GEO Group, yet the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report from the surprise inspection of GEO Group’s Adelanto facility in May found that one detainee had been on a dentist waitlist for so long that multiple teeth fell out. “When we asked one of the dentists why fillings were not performed, he said he barely has time to do cleanings and screening, so as a result he does not do fillings,” the report continued, stating that the dentist “suggested detainees could use string from their socks to floss if they were dedicated to dental hygiene.” Sock-and-floss-in-one, that should save the company a buck or so.
Meanwhile, CoreCivic—which used to be Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), but then changed its name as part of an unsuccessful public relations rehabilitation attempt—was sued this past summer by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), for forcing immigrant detainees “to work for as little as $1 a day to clean, cook, and maintain the detention center in a scheme to maximize profits.” The lawsuit lasers in on one facility in Georgia that had essentially been threatening detainees with solitary confinement—this is torture—unless they worked.
The senators also addressed a letter to another company profiting off mass deportation, The Nakamoto Group, which is contracted by the federal government to conduct inspections of facilities like Adelanto. Yeah, about that: “Internal interviews from ICE employees suggest the Nakamoto inspections are ‘useless,’ and ‘very, very, very difficult to fail,’” the senators write. Additionally, “when the government inspectors examined the same facilities as Nakamoto, the government inspectors often identified upwards of twice as many violations.” Real nice use of taxpayer resources there.