Hunger strikes in corporate immigrant prisons in the United States

Northwest Detention Center
Hundreds of prisoners at the Northwest Detention Center are on hunger strike.

Detainees at the privately-owned Northwest Detention Center in the United States are on a hunger strike against bad treatment and deportations.

Submitted by libera-te-tuternet on March 10, 2014

Here is an expected result of the cruelty that is immigrant detention. Hundreds out of 1,300 immigrants currently being detained in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma began protesting on Friday. They began a hunger strike against deportations as well as better conditions in the facility such as higher wages, better food and better treatment.

On the evening of Friday, the number of those on strike reached 750 according to the ICE (U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement), but some other organizations not affiliated with the U.S. government claimed that 1,200 prisoners were protesting in reality. The number eventually dropped to 330 on Sunday, however protests inside and outside of the detention center are continuing.

These demonstrations are a result of a horrifying situation in this facility that is very similar to other detention centers in the United States. In this specific center, prisoners are paid 1 USD per day, almost all of which goes to extremely high costs of goods at the commissary (prisons' equivalent to a convenience store), and hardly receive any medical treatment. Meanwhile, the for-profit organization that runs the facility, GEO Group, had a net income of 134 million USD in 2012 alone.

The ICE deported nearly 370 thousand immigrants from the United States in the year 2013. While the Immigration & Customs Enforcement eagerly points out that approximately sixty percent of these criminals have criminal records, the other forty percent presumably do not, and the majority of those who do have criminal records have minor charges. In addition, more than one hundred thousand of those deported in 2013 were done so under speedy circumstances without any form of trial or legal advocacy. Throughout the Obama administration, up to two million people were deported from the United States.

With these facts in mind, it is easy to see why prisoners are striking against deportations, better prison conditions and better pay within this facility. If those striking reach the 72nd hour of their demonstration, they will undergo a medical evaluation according to the ICE, which will probably be the first time that they receive a comprehensive medical checkup during their time in the detention facility. Unfortunately, government agencies are trying to ensure that this story falls on deaf ears; the ICE made a recent statement that some of the prisoners have records for violent crimes.

Although this may sound like a good justification to some, some of the prisoners being rapists and murderers doesn't change the fact that the United States government and private corporations have together damaged the livelihoods of millions of people for the sake of monetary profit. Perhaps this is capitalism and the state at their worst: millions imprisoned for their right as humans to travel, and then turned over to for-profit organizations whose sole interest is maximizing income.

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Reuters article on the strike
Los Angeles Times article on the strike
Demands of the striking prisoners
U.S. Deportation Statistics
2012 report by the GEO Group which owns the detention center

Comments

Steven.

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 10, 2014

Hey, thanks for posting, and look forward to more from your blog!

A couple of quick sub editing notes: I added the tag "migration" which we use for all articles about migrants and immigration. Also, it's great if you can mark the map where your article is about, in the location section you can zoom in and add a flag to the relevant area: so you can even mark a particular detention centre if you know where it is.

Anyway, thanks again

libera-te-tuternet

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by libera-te-tuternet on March 10, 2014

Ok, I will put the location of the detention center. Thanks a lot!

Ed

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on March 10, 2014

Cheers for this, great article!

libera-te-tuternet

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by libera-te-tuternet on March 10, 2014

Thank you!

Steven.

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 10, 2014

Great stuff, thanks