Week 5: The Connection Between For-Profit Prison Corporations & Migrant Detention Policies

Candice Crutchfield
Jul 5, 2019 · 5 min read
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Illustration by ADASTRA COMIX for, “Call for Art: End Migrant Detention!”

Summary

Though many political pundits and others attempt to separate the two, there is a direct connection between immigration policies and mass incarceration. Issues of immigration detention, as they relate to the prison industrial complex, are best explained through the lens of private or for-profit prisons.

Private Prisons Cashing in On Migrant Crisis — But Who’s Paying? Stephanie Rhule, MSNBC

Statistics to Know

  • Private prisons account for 20% of all federal prisoners held in detention and their profits are soaring in the wake of immigration arrests
  • Every state in the U.S. has at least one facility that ICE has used to detain individuals. Texas, California, Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana are the top five states with the largest number of people in immigration detention per day.
  • The number of people in immigration detention/immigrant prisons has increased under every presidential administration for more than 25 years
  • According to the Migrant Policy Institute, in 2016, nearly three-quarters of the average daily immigration detainee population was held in facilities operated by private prison companies — a sharp contrast from a decade ago when most were held in local jails and state prisons.
  • Reported in 2018 data collection from the American Immigration Council, for many, the length of detention is significantly longer in privately operated and remotely located facilities.
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Which states detain the most immigrants? Data derived from freedomforimmigrants.org

Terms & Definitions

private/for-profit prisons: prison facility run by a third party that is contracted by a government agency. Since 1977, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has paid private companies to build and operate prisons to ease capacity in government-run facilities. The three biggest players in the private prison business are CoreCivic, GEO Group, and Management & Training Corporation (MTC).

Who to Follow

Freedom for Immigrants, an organization devoted to abolishing immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering from the profit-driven system. They maintain the most up-to-date maps of the U.S. immigration detention system, keeping track of more than 200 prisons and jails.

Additional Resources

For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants is Big Business, The New York Times
Profiting from Enforcement: The Role of Private Prisons in U.S. Immigration Detention, Migration Policy Institute
Detained, Then Violated, The Intercept
The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant, The Marshall Project
Capitalizing on Mass Incarceration: U.S. Growth in Private Prisons, The Sentencing Project
The History of Racial Injustice: For-Profit Detention Centers, Equal Justice Initiative
How for-profit prison corporations shape immigrant detention and deportation policies, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
How Trump Inherited His Expanding Detention System, The Marshall Project
Graphic Novel: UNDOCUMENTED- The Architecture of Migrant Detention Centers, Tings Chak

(In)Justice Served

Considered a criminal justice “cheat sheet,” this is a…

Candice Crutchfield

Written by

Graduate student at Columbia University researching incarceration and human rights. Tweets @whatcandicesays

(In)Justice Served

Considered a criminal justice “cheat sheet,” this is a sister component to weekly Instagram stories by @whatcandicedoes. Follow along with the conversation by using the tags #whatcandicesays and #injusticeserved on your favorite social media platforms

Candice Crutchfield

Written by

Graduate student at Columbia University researching incarceration and human rights. Tweets @whatcandicesays

(In)Justice Served

Considered a criminal justice “cheat sheet,” this is a sister component to weekly Instagram stories by @whatcandicedoes. Follow along with the conversation by using the tags #whatcandicesays and #injusticeserved on your favorite social media platforms

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