Within the last few years awareness has grown regarding the business of private prisons, particularly private corrections, and its many flaws. More recently, attention has been paid to the now largest division of the private prison industry: immigration detention. In 2011, both Amnesty International and PBS's Frontline brought light to the booming business of immigration detention.
The Sentencing Project's 2012 report Dollars and Detainees: The Growth of For-Profit Detention reveals shocking statistics on the number of immigration detainees in private detention centers, including that the total private detainee population increased by 259% between 2002 and 2010. While the number of privately held inmates has decreased due to state budget crises and policy changes, the number of federal detainees under the jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) has increased as a result of "stepped up efforts to find, incarcerate, and deport people who violate immigration laws." "There are indications that federal detention will remain a major market for private companies."
Immigration detainees differ from prisoners because they are detained while waiting to have their case decided in court as opposed to serving a sentence for conviction of a crime. Despite the differing reason for imprisonment, immigration detainees will likely face deplorable conditions, abusive treatment, and other human rights violations. In 2009, the New York Times reported on multiple deaths in a detention facility in Eloy, Arizona owned by one of the largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
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