Correction Corporation of America's Stewart facility in Lumpkin, Georgia is the largest private detention center in the nation. It holds 2000 detainees, charging taxpayers up to $200 a night and producing yearly profits that hover between $35 and $50 million. The facility secures more income through cost cutting measures that range from denying basic necessary services to detained immigrants to limiting access to their family members.
Stewart detention center is located in a remote Georgia location at least an hour away from any sort of communication or service providers. This is primarily because CCA often buys cheap land in order to cut construction costs and increase profit margins. Relatives and representatives of those detained at Stewart find it nearly impossible to visit or communicate with the inmate, that is if they even know that he or she is being held there.
As if that weren't enough, CCA charges inmates more than $5 a minute to make a phone call. To pay for this, inmates work in the facility and earn a whopping $1 a day. Five days of hard work gives them just enough time for a one minute phone call.
This is an intrinsic and essential problem with our current immigration system, it is putting profit over sensible policy. CCA and GEO the two larges private prison operators currently profit close to $5 billion and their share prices are at an all-time high. What is worse, local, state and federal government agencies continue to yield their power to corporations. From Florida (Southwest Ranch) to California (Adelanto) more and more Wal-Mart sized private detention centers are being co-opted with opportunistic officials and legislators. The money machine is just too perfect.
Recent anti-immigration laws in Alabama (HB56) and Georgia (HB87) guarantee that neighbor facilities will have an influx of "product." In the past few years, CCA has spent $14.8 million lobbying for anti-immigration laws to ensure they have continuous access to fresh inmates and keep their money racket going. In 2010 CCA CEO Damon T. Hininger received $3,266,387 in total compensation.
Yet, numerous cases of abuse, neglect and flat-out exploitation have exposed the reality of the system: As long as private prisons are increasing their profits, it doesn't matter who gets hurt or locked-up.
On November 18th, a coalition of immigrant and civil rights organizations will conduct a powerful vigil and occupation outside the Stewart facility in Georgia. The demand: Shut down Stewart Detention Center now and cancel private prison contracts. Our immigration system is broken and yet corporations seam to be reaping billions in benefits. Who cares? After all YOU are paying for it.