Undocumented immigrants live in deplorable conditions at private prisons in Texas, according to a report out today by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The report is based on years of interviews the ACLU and ACLU of Texas have conducted with immigrants detained at so-called Criminal Alien Requirement prisons. Inmates said conditions include overflowing bathrooms and infestations of vermin.
Rebecca Robertson, Legal & Policy director of the ACLU of Texas, says these companies are in business to make money – and federal Bureau of Prisons contracts are lucrative.
"In the fiscal year 2014 budget request, BOP asked for almost $700 million just to pay to private prison companies," Robertson says. "Given the rate at which we’re criminalizing immigrants, it’s pretty clear that BOP’s reliance on the private prison industry will only continue to grow."
Texas has the largest concentration of these private prisons: five of them, in or near the towns of Big Spring, Eden, Pecos, Post and Raymondville.
The ACLU is calling on the Bureau of Prisons to hold these prisons to the same standards as other federal prisons.
In a statement, a Bureau spokesperson says the BOP takes "seriously the allegations made" in the report. The BOP also acknowledges the overcrowding of low and medium security institutions.
To ensure that contractors perform in accordance with contract terms and conditions, the BOP has staff to monitor and perform inspections. An annual review also assesses the contractor's overall performance. "Serious findings identified during these reviews may result in monetary deductions," the statement reads.