Baby Steps

by Blue

In August the Bureau of Prisons announced that it will close Cibola, a private-run prison in New Mexico that houses 1200 undocumented people convicted of felonies. It is believed that the reason for the early termination of the contract with Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) is due to its failure to comply with numerous health and medical treatment standards including suspicious deaths of at least 3 inmates over a two year period.

There are 22,000 people in US immigration prisons. One could consider it ironic if it were not so inhumane. The US, in a failed attempt to discourage undocumented immigration, passed laws that criminalized those who violate deportation and now keep them in prison in the US for years. To avoid housing people in general population prisons, the US decided to do business with private prison companies to save money. The private prisons save money by providing sub-standard or non-existent medical care, poorly staffed facilities, bad food and no programs for prisoners.

The BOP decision to close private prisons follows two extensive investigations by journalists Seth Freed Wessler of the Nation, and Shane Bauer who worked undercover as a prison guard and wrote about it for Mother Jones. The government-run prisons are not much better but there is a little more consistent oversight and there are more avenues for prisoners to get their grievances heard.

The BOP has 13 more prisons operated by CCA that it plans to phase out sometime in the future, a necessary step in the right direction. However, this is not the end of private prisons in the US. All the immigrant detention centers are run under contract of CCA. Designed to hold people for no more than 20 days by federal regulation, families are now held for several years. All of the juvenile facilities in Florida are privatized. And many state prisons are operated by CCA and other private prison companies. Many of these facilities have the same problems.  But they are still open.

Open the borders. Close all prisons. Create jobs, not criminals.

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is www.lagai.org.

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