By Dotty Griffith
Public Education Director
Most reporters drank the ICE Kool-Aid last week when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement conducted a media tour of the Obama administration’s new “model detention center” in Karnes City, just southeast of San Antonio.
The Chronicle and the Texas Observer- unlike other media reports we’ve seen – noted that the facility will be run by a for-profit prison corporation with a checkered record, GEO Group, the second-largest for-profit prison company in the United States. National Public Radio noted protests by immigrants’ rights advocates, another part of the event largely ignored by media.
Typical single-source reporting, particularly a story by the Associated Press that was widely picked up, distorted the real issue: continued detention at great expense to taxpayers and great profit for private prison corporations of immigrants who can be tracked at lower cost without incarceration while awaiting deportation hearings.
Federal and state governments should stop relying on the private prison industry. Private incarceration companies like GEO have incentives to cut corners and maximize profit at the expense of decent treatment and human rights. In 2007, state auditors had this to say about a Texas juvenile facility operated by GEO: “cells were filthy, smelled of feces and urine, and were in need of paint,” and “there is racial segregation [in] the dorms.” Last month, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center settled a lawsuit that alleged horrific abuse of youth at another GEO prison.
Sadly, most media outlets failed to report anything but what they were told.