Sunday, March 5, 2017

American Horror

And another bit of horror, this time from the US:
Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were forced to work for $1 day, or for nothing at all — a violation of federal anti-slavery laws — a lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit, filed in 2014 against one of the largest private prison companies in the country, reached class-action status this week after a federal judge’s ruling. That means the case could involve as many as 60,000 immigrants who were detained  detainees.
It’s the first time a class-action lawsuit accusing a private U.S. prison company of forced labor has been allowed to move forward.
“That’s obviously a big deal; it’s recognizing the possibility that a government contractor could be engaging in forced labor,” said Nina DiSalvo, executive director of Towards Justice, a Colorado-based nonprofit group that represents low-wage workers, including undocumented immigrants. “Certification of the class is perhaps the only mechanism by which these vulnerable individuals who were dispersed across the country and across the world would ever be able to vindicate their rights.”
At the heart of the dispute is the Denver Contract Detention Facility, a 1,500-bed center in Aurora, Colo., owned and operated by GEO Group under a contract with ICE. The Florida-based corporation runs facilities to house undocumented immigrants who are awaiting their turn in court.
What is the GEO group? Wikipedia tells us:
The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO) is a Florida-based company specializing in corrections, detention and mental health treatment. It maintains facilities in North America, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. In 2015 the GEO Group's federal contracts with the United States government for operating prisons generated about 45% of its revenues.
Oh dear god, mental health treatment, which interestingly is also in the news, involving a lawsuit alleging medicaid fraud. Synergistic with their prison business, I guess. Also with Jeff Sessions, who rescinded an Obama era pull-back from private prisons and two of whose former Senate aides are now lobbyists for GEO.

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