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DWN Endorses National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners

February 20, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

Monday, February 20, 2012

Contact: Emily Tucker, 917-991-9425, etucker@detentionwatchnetwork.org

Silky Shah, 347-243-8743, sshah@detentionwatchnetwork.org

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS GROUP ENDORSES OCCUPY FOR PRISONERS

Detention Watch Network calls attention to the incarceration of immigrants on National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners

Washington, DC – Detention Watch Network (DWN) joins dozens of prisoners’ rights organizations and Occupy groups today to endorse the National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners. Rallies, marches, vigils and protests are taking place in cities across the country today, calling attention to the economic hardships of the 99 percent and the impact on people of color incarcerated in the U.S.

The U.S. is the world’s leading jailer. Over the last 30 years, harsh sentencing laws and the progressive erosion of social programs have caused the prison population to increase by 500%. Today, more than 2.3 million people are behind bars in this country, and the vast majority are people of color.

Among those locked up as part of the explosion of the prison system are thousands of immigrants, who are detained while having been targeted for deportation and are seeking the right to remain in the U.S. Throughout this process they are imprisoned by the government and subjected to extreme physical and mental suffering without any of the standard legal protections that are the hallmarks of true democracies.

“The increasing use of incarceration in the U.S. over the last 30 years has included more immigration detention largely due to a law passed in 1996 that mandated detention for certain immigrants,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director for DWN.  “Similar to harsh sentencing laws, such as mandatory minimums and three strikes, mandatory detention for immigrants has denied countless people the right to a fair day in court, tearing apart families and communities across the country.”

Since 1996, the immigration detention system has grown rapidly, from 70,000 people detained annually to more than 360,000.  The U.S. now maintains a large network of detention facilities, comprised of more than 250 federal and private facilities, state prisons and county jails, at an annual cost of $1.7 billion to taxpayers. The expansion of the detention system has been accompanied by increasing levels of abuse, substandard living conditions, and over 120 immigrant deaths since 2003.

“In solidarity with those occupying for prisoners we’d like to call attention to the situation for immigrants detained in the U.S. who are part of the 99 percent,” said Black. “Immigrants are both the targets of the Wells Fargo-backed private prison industry and the victims of free trade laws and American foreign policy initiatives that have crippled their local economies. Today we stand with those incarcerated on U.S. soil and demand justice for all.”

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