Immigrants held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Denver Contract Detention Facility have alleged that the private prison forced them to work for $1 per day. This suit was first filed back in 2014, but has now been awarded class-action status.
This marks the first time in history that a class-action lawsuit has moved forward against a private U.S. prison company.
The centre is under contract with ICE and is owned and operated by GEO Group. If the allegations are true, the for-profit prison company GEO Group will be in violation of American anti-slavery laws.
The operation of private prison systems in the United States have sparked discussion recently, but to no avail. Private prisons remain a staple in the American justice system despite accusations of prisoner abuse from private vendors in: Mississippi, Michigan, and Florida.
In 2015 there was a full investigation into private prison owners, Youth Services International. YSI responded by voluntarily cutting ties with the prison, after facing allegations of improperly trained staff, and incidents of the staff using children to inflict harm upon the other children. Reports of similar incidents have surfaced all over the United States, but the class action suit against GEO Group as a result of the events that took place in Denver, is the first of its kind. It may be the first step toward bringing the issue to the mainstream media, and eventually removing private prisons from the American justice system.
"Detained immigrants suing a private prison company over forced labor move forward with groundbreaking class action." – VICE News. Accessed March 10, 2017. https://news.vice.com/story/detained-immigrants-suing-a-private-prison-company-over-forced-labor-move-forward-with-groundbreaking-class-action.
"Lawsuit: GEO Group Violated Anti-Slavery Laws by Forcing Imprisoned Immigrants to Work for $1 a Day." Democracy Now! March 06, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2017. https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/6/headlines/lawsuit_geo_group_violated_anti_slavery_laws_by_forcing_imprisoned_immigrants_to_work_for_1_a_day.
Edwards, Breanna. "Class Action Lawsuit Claims Thousands of ICE Detainees Were Forced Into Labor, Violating Anti-Slavery Laws." The Root. March 06, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/class-action-lawsuit-claims-thousands-of-ice-detainees-1793008061.
Phillips, Kristine. "Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws." The Washington Post. March 05, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/05/thousands-of-ice-detainees-claim-they-were-forced-into-labor-a-violation-of-anti-slavery-laws/?utm_term=.eb9766a4fb2f.
Florida, The News Service of. "Critics take aim at juvenile detention firm." Gainesville Sun. September 05, 2015. Accessed March 13, 2017. http://www.gainesville.com/news/20150905/critics-take-aim-at-juvenile-detention-firm.
Student Researcher: Michaela Solomon (University of Regina)
Faculty Evaluator: Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)