NY Times: End Immigration Private Prisons Now

Image from detentionwatchnetwork.org

The New York Times called for an end to the use of for-profit immigration prisons in an editorial this morning. According to the editorial:

The Department of Homeland Security announced late last month that it is considering ending its use of private prisons, as the Justice Department has decided to do. The Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, told his department’s advisory council to study the issue and report back to him by the end of November.

That gives him only a few weeks to read, review and act before everything gets bumped to the Trump or Clinton administration. To save time, Mr. Johnson could do the wise thing and end the contracts now.

There is no need to further study the failings of the private prison industry. Mr. Johnson only has to read the Justice Department inspector general’sreport in August about the prevalence of safety and security problems at private prisons, or a recent Mother Jones article that looks inside a brutal, mismanaged Louisiana prison run by Corrections Corporation of America, one of two companies that dominate the immigrant-prison business.

Whether private prison contracts should be canceled or simply not renewed, or whether Homeland Security should contract with state or county lockups, or run its own, will need to be answered. But the administration should first be asking itself why it locks up so many immigrants who are not safety threats, who are not there to be punished, who in many cases are refugees and who are the mothers of young children or are young children.

The editorial continues:

There are ways to enforce the law without mistreating a population that fits no definition of a criminal threat. The job of dismantling the prison network Mr. Obama built will pass on to Hillary Clinton, if she is elected. If it’s Donald Trump, who wants to make immigration enforcement the federal government’s overriding priority, then private incarceration, industry profits and human suffering will go through the roof.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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