DHS Must Sever Ties with Toxic Private Prison Companies

Recent move by Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group reveal further proof of the private prison industry’s culture of secrecy

Today, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO) continued their fight against transparency and accountability, offering yet another reason why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must immediately sever its ties with private prison companies.

Earlier this summer, a federal judge ruled that the details of government contracts with private prison corporations are not exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a result, DHS was ordered to provide details of the contracts it has signed with private prison companies, including how much the companies are paid, what promises the government has made about the number of people to be detained, and staffing levels for medical personnel—the need for which are alarmingly clear in the midst of continued reporting about medical neglect and deaths in immigrant detention.

In the aftermath of the ruling, the government chose not to appeal, but CCA and GEO have stepped in to escalate the fight. Both companies moved to intervene in the case in order to appeal the ruling—a request which was granted today.

“These companies know that public awareness of how their profiteering works may undermine their enormous influence over detention policy, which has given them control of over 70 percent of immigration detention beds,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Ghita Schwarz.

“It is past time for DHS to reverse its deep entanglement with companies who insist on operating in secret,” said Mary Small, Policy Director of Detention Watch Network. “Secretary Johnson has all of the evidence of abuse and mismanagement that he needs to end the toxic relationship between the private prison industry and DHS. The companies’ fundamental objection to transparency, proven yet again by this legal move, is just another mark against them.” 


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

September 2, 2016