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via @icirr: Joliet, IL Says No to Private, For-Profit Immigration Prison

April 11, 2013

From Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Monica Trevino at mtrevino@icirr.org

or Jesse Hoyt at jessehoyt@icirr.org

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Joliet Voters Send Strong Message: 

NO to Private, For-Profit Immigration Prison

The following is the statement of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights regarding the results of April 9th city council elections in Joliet:

The voters of Joliet have sent a strong message to the city government:  We do not want a for-profit immigration prison in our community.  The elections on April 9th for three at-large city council seats, Joliet voters gave the largest vote total (5,778) to Jim McFarland, who voiced strong opposition to the proposed prison.  Voters also appear to have reelected Jan Quillman, who has herself expressed skepticism about the project.  By comparison, in the last at-large city council elections in 2009, the leading candidate received only3,763 votes.

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), this country’s largest private prison company, has approached the City of Joliet regarding a bid to build a new for-profit prison in Joliet to house immigration detainees.   CCA’s attempt last year to build in the village of Crete was rejected by the village board amid widespread local opposition.  Concerned Citizens of Joliet, a diverse, multi-ethnic alliance of local leaders, has been organizing opposition in that community, including a get-out-the-vote effort for yesterday’s elections.  This past Saturday more than 1,000 Joliet residents and other community leaders, joined by US Rep. Bill Foster and then-candidate (now US Rep.) Robin Kelly, rallied and marched in Joliet against the proposed prison. 

Private correctional companies such as CCA have come under heavy criticism for their poor track record of mistreating and abusing detainees, neglecting personnel, and undermining the communities hosting their facilities. At least 24 immigrant detainees have died in CCA facilities, many from lack of medical care for conditions that could have been treated.  CCA has also faced multiple lawsuits regarding these and other abuses, including allegations that in one Idaho prison it ran a “gladiator school” that used “Hunger Games”-like violence and intimidation to control the inmates.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) imprisons 33,500 immigrant detainees on any given day.  Many members of Congress, including Republicans like US Rep. Spencer Bachus, have questioned the need to hold so many individuals in ICE custody.  With Congressional debate on immigration reform—and possible legalization for 11 million undocumented immigrants–quickly approaching, it makes little sense to build new prisons to house these immigration detainees.

ICIRR, which led the fight against the Crete facility, will continue to oppose private prisons throughout our state and to call for reforms to our immigration detention system and immigration laws so that immigrant families will not be separated by detention and deportation. 

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visitwww.icirr.org.

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