ACTION CALL #3 — From Border Walls to Prison Walls: Profiting from Deportation and Incarceration

Photo: Alison Groves

Jeff Sessions, the racist from Alabama who Donald Trump handpicked to be attorney general, is accelerating the war on crime/drugs by strengthening the very structures and policies that have contributed to our mass incarceration problem. For-profit prisons feed off of this prison industrial complex, which targets and imprisons primarily African-American and Latino people of color. Deportation raids have recently become a new channel of funneling bodies into it.

This call unites two dangerous threats to vulnerable populations: the criminalization of immigrants and the prison industrial complex. ICE is terrorizing immigrant communities. People are disappearing into rapidly filling detention centers as increasing ICE raids funnel more bodies into existing prisons and new detention centers. While these private corporations profit from the deportation and incarceration of immigrants, nearly half a million people are torn from their families and communities. The immigrants ICE targets are mostly law-abiding citizens who’ve been productive members of their communities for years.

Photo: ndlon

Although violent crime rates are declining overall, Sessions, monster extraordinaire, is doubling down on perpetuating mass incarceration and police violence. He seeks to stop the consent decrees that were supposed to address and prevent police brutality and amp up the war on drugs, which has been acknowledged as a war on black people. The drug war’s only beneficiaries? Corporations who build and run private prisons and white supremacists, who’ve succeeded in creating a prison population that is 59% Black and Latino.

Photo: ep_jhu

Communities have been torn apart as the incarceration rates for Black men increased five-fold. Many of those released from prison — even on minor charges — won’t be allowed to vote and will have difficulties finding jobs. Police brutality became common, especially against people of color. Even as cell phones and social media force white Americans to recognize that police brutality is endemic, the racist Jeff Sessions is rolling back Obama era reforms aimed at addressing police violence. All of these policies threaten our communities and our lives.

Photo: hollow sidewalks

It’s time to stand with the most vulnerable communities. It’s time stand against the entwined evils of white supremacy and prisons for profit. This call focuses on destabilizing that prison system and countering the white supremacy agenda. Here’s what you can do:

ACTIONS

Get educated about immigration detention, mass incarceration, and the for-profit detention and prison industries. Watch the videos below and share what you have learned from them on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platform. We ask that you amplify a few lessons from these videos. Ask for comments and engagement with the topic of private prisons and detention centers. Encourage your network of friends, family, and colleagues to share.

  • This 4-minute video of Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist and immigration reform activist talks about U.S. immigration policy issues that led him to make the film Documented.
  • This 5-minute video of Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey explaining the challenges and costs of legal immigration to the US.
  • This 3-minute video of Janaya Khan from Black Lives Matter explaining the abolition of the criminal justice system and policing to interrupt the prison industrial complex and refocus on vulnerable communities.
  • The award-winning 13th, a full-length documentary about mass incarceration of African American males and the loophole in the 13th Amendment that prohibits slavery except as punishment for a crime. The documentary is available on Netflix and has also been released for public screenings. This week, take time to watch the film, either in your own home or at a public screening in your area. If you are looking for an ambitious “stretch goal,” host your own public screening! No matter if you watch the film with a crowd or just a couple of friends, facilitate discussion with guides from Education for Justice, a project of Center of Concern or Influence Film Club.

Put pressure on your schools, institutions, cities, and states to defund and divest from private prisons. Read the Platform and Solutions from the Movement for Black Lives and stay informed of local, state, and federal actions to end criminalization and dehumanization.

Support the detention center hunger strikers.

The North West Detention Center Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC is providing support for the hunger strikers. They are asking that we call the City of Tacoma’s Finance Department, Finance Department, Andrew Cherullo, Finance Director, (253) 591–5800. Sample script:

I am calling to urge you to revoke GEO Group’s Business License. In a March 2017 letter to GEO, Mayor Strickland noted that the City of Tacoma can revoke GEO’s business license if it is a “danger to the public health, safety and welfare of the individuals [detained] as well as the community as a whole.”

Call ICE Acting Field Director Bryan S. Wilcox and Assistant Field Director of Detention William Penaloza. Main: (253) 779–6000. Field Office: (206) 835–0650. Sample script:

I am calling to urge you to meet the demands of the hunger strikers and to demand that GEO Group does not retaliate against hunger strikers. We have reports that strikers have been threatened with transfer to facilities away from their loved ones as punishment. These are the demands:

​▪ Change the food menu

▪ Lower commissary prices.

▪ Improve hygiene, including the ability to wash clothes with soap and water.

▪ Increase recreation time.

▪ Have programs available to keep detainees occupied.

▪ Improve medical attention.

▪ Increase wages for working detainees.

▪ Help speed up the legal process for detainees.

Hold for-profit prisons to the same standards as federal prisons.

  • Call your representative to support H.R.1980 — Private Prison Information Act of 2017, a bill introduced by Sheila Jackson and now in the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Urge support of HR 1980 with a comment on the The House Judiciary Committee’s Facebook page. Sample comment:

For profit prisons should have the same standards for record keeping and transparency, without use of federal funds to get into compliance.

Donate to organizations that are run by and for people fighting for their right to freedom.

Families for Freedom (FFF) is New York-based, representing immigrants from many countries who are at risk of or are fighting deportation. FFF is working to repeal laws that tear families and communities apart and to end criminalization, mass incarceration and deportation of communities of color. They do capacity building, education, and campaigns with immigrant communities of color, promoting immigrant rights as human rights.

Donate to FFF here.

Critical Resistance is a chapter-based, national grassroots organization working to abolish the prison industrial complex. Their campaigns have helped to halt prison and jail construction and developed organizing tools for alternatives to policing and the prison industrial complex.

Donate to Critical Resistance here, purchase CR merchandise, and subscribe to the Abolitionist Newspaper which also supports free subscriptions to incarcerated people.

The Prison Divestment Movement is a coalition of organizations using strategies learned from S. Africa’s anti-apartheid work towards divestment from the two largest for profit private prison companies. They have an impressive list of campaign victories dating back to 2011. Donate to the Prison Divestment Movement here.