In an unprecedented move, the Justice Department announced in August that it would gradually phase out the use of private prisons. While this action would only effect roughly 12 percent of inmates in the U.S., it was still celebrated by many. However, it seems that the administration has taken another step backward since that time.
The Obama Administration has renewed a Family Detention Center contract with the private prison company, Correction Corporations of America. The contract would allow the company to continue operating the South Texas Family Residential Center — a family prison — in Dilley, Texas. This facility reportedly imprisons the majority of the United States’ mother and child detainees. The contract is set to run through 2021, according to the Tennessean.
According to Mother Jones,
That could be bad news for immigrants who have complained in the past of an understaffed medical clinic and widespread illness among child detainees. Mothers at the Dilley facility have said it’s not right to hold them and their kids in prison-like conditions, especially after they escaped gang violence and other trauma in their home countries. Understaffing at another CCA-run prison, in Louisiana, coincided with high rates of assault, a Mother Jonesinvestigation found.
Staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Carl Takei, told the Houston Press “that the contract renewal was publicized just weeks after Immigrant and Customs Enforcement’s advisory committee on family detention recommended that ICE end the practice of family detention entirely.”