Immigration

Private Prison Companies Make Millions By Criminalizing Immigrants (Video)

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The U.S. government is open again and President Obama says that immigration reform will be a top priority for the rest of 2013.

The Huffington Post reports that the nation’s biggest for-profit prison companies, such as the GEO Group Inc., make millions of dollars each year putting immigrants in federal custody. The company collects $1.6 billion each year locking people up and will obtain more money if the new laws bring on many new prisoners.

GEO pulled in its market share by taking 72 lobbyists into service in 17 states and making a contribution to over 400 candidates between 2003 and 2011. The lobbying will be profitable with contracts to operate 57 jails and prisons across the U.S.

According to Huffington Post, GEO has a history of abuse and neglect juveniles at its facilities. For instance, at the company’s youth prison in Walnut Grove, Miss., officials found that guards sexually abused minors.

Said one one federal judge, the Walnut Grove youth prison is “a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.”

GEO is still doing well financially despite lawsuits regarding the company’s abuses. The company also wants to uphold polices that increase mass incarceration.

In the company’s annual financial report, GEO admitted that it could be “adversely affected” by “any changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs [that could] potentially reduce demand for correctional facilities.” Fewer people under correctional control would be disadvantageous for the company.

The SAFE Act (HR 2278), if passed by the House Judiciary Committee, would classify millions of undocumented immigrants as criminals overnight, Huffington Post reports. Without papers, immigrants could face felony charges and end up in prison for months or years. The civil immigration detention system would also expand. If the bill is passed, private prison companies could profit, and cost prison companies could collect large profits.

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