Amy Gottlieb, director of AFSC's Newark program, exposed the complex network of those who profit from detaining immigrants in an op-ed at Al Jazeera America.
The article raises provocative questions about just why our government continues to drag its feet on implementing humane immigration reform.
She makes a powerful case for reform that puts the needs of families and communities above the profits of the prison industry—profits that now extend beyond private prisons, to local jails and other companies serving detention facilities:
County jails contract with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] at an average rate of $120 per bed per day, and often push to get the contracts. For example, the Essex County jail in New Jersey signed a $250 million five-year contract in late 2011. Currently, they also benefit from commissions on telephone calls out of jails. Essex County earns 54 percent commission on each phone call made from the jail, reaching close to $1 million in 2012. The other 46 percent goes to a private phone company, which charges exorbitant rates to inmates.
While New York and several other states don’t allow the practice, the system is legal in New Jersey. Prison companies and their contractors hold detainees and provide cover for the administration to show that they are cracking down on what they see as the immigration “problem.” Read more.
The billions of taxpayer dollars funneled into immigrant detention is harmful to our economy—but just as harmful to our humanity is the denial of basic human rights. Read the full article here.