ACLU: DOJ Private-Prison Decision Signals End to Texas’ Immigrant Prisons

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Should Follow Suit

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
August 18, 2016 4:30 pm

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HOUSTON – Citing inadequate services, programs, resources, savings, safety and security, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today that it would neither seek new contracts nor renew existing contracts with private prison companies. The decision directly affects Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons whose abuses, deficiencies and lack of transparency were exhaustively detailed by the ACLU and ACLU of Texas in their 2014 report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped In Our Shadow Private Prison System.

“This is a major victory for those of us who have fought for years to expose the innumerable abuses and indignities in our Criminal Alien Requirement prisons and we’re overjoyed the Department of Justice has finally listened, however belatedly,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “Lives have been lost to this broken system. Good riddance.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s decision will not affect the for-profit prison companies’ relationships with other federal agencies or state clients. Texas, for example, maintains contracts for 16 private prison facilities.

“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice should follow the lead of the Justice Department and end their relationships with the for-profit prison industry,” said Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas. “And TDCJ could start by phasing out one or more private state jail contracts when they expire next year. The for-profit prison model creates perverse incentives to cut corners and lock up as many people as possible, all on the taxpayers’ dime. The results have been predictable: over-criminalization, overcrowding, inhumane treatment, inadequate services and health care and routine abuse of detainees.”

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