***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
December 2, 2016
Progressive Congress Applauds DHS Advisory Panel’s Recommendation to End Reliance on Use of Private Prisons as Immigration Detention Centers, Urges DHS to End Use of Private Prisons Entirely
Washington, D.C.— In response to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory panel’s recommendation on December 1, 2016 rejecting DHS’s decision to continue using private prisons as immigration detention centers, Progressive Congress issued the following statement:
“Progressive Congress applauds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory panel’s rejection of DHS’s decision to continue using private prisons as immigration detention centers. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recognized the harmful abuse and violations of human rights that often occur in private prisons; this led to the DOJ’s decision to end federal contracts with private prisons. This was an incredible step forward for criminal justice reform, and it signaled a new approach to mass incarceration, placing human lives above profits.
“As soon as the DOJ announced their decision, we joined members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Members of the Democratic Caucus and other civil rights and social justice organizations in calling on the Department of Homeland Security to join the Department of Justice and end the use of private prisons to detain immigrants. The risk of abuse at immigration detention centers is greatly multiplied in privately contracted facilities, where administrators and officials have little to no oversight and no incentive to address problematic conditions.
“We were disappointed with DHS’s announcement yesterday that they would continue to contract with private prisons, despite evidence in their recently released report of abuse and inhumane conditions. We were pleasantly surprised the same afternoon to hear that the DHS advisory panel had not only rejected this decision but urged DHS to end its use of private prisons. This is a welcome announcement and we hope that DHS will follow this recommendation. Immigrants regardless of citizenship are subject to the same human rights and civil liberties as all global citizens; while they await trial or case resolution, we must afford them the protection and dignity that we would wish our own citizens to be granted around the world.
“‘We applaud the DHS advisory panel’s recommendations regarding the use of private prisons as detention centers, and we are gratified that the DHS report calls for greater oversight and monitoring of immigration detention facilities,” said Dr. Gabriela Lemus, President of Progressive Congress. “Abuse at these detention facilities is well-documented, and it is past time to address the need to preserve the rights and human dignity of the men, women, and children who are currently detained in these facilities. Privatization without limitations goes against our core American values and defies the real need for government accountability. Our nation’s detention centers must reflect our more humane belief in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”