Detainees Allegedly Forced To Work For Toilet Paper In Private Prison

A lawsuit claims that the nation’s largest private prison company, CoreCivic, is disregarding national anti-human trafficking legislation.

A class action lawsuit filed in federal court for the Middle District of Georgia alleges that a private prison company forced immigrant detainees to work for $1 per day just to obtain basic necessities, like toilet paper and toothpaste.

The suit claims that the nation’s largest private prison company, CoreCivic, is disregarding national anti-human trafficking legislation in its treatment of people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Wilhen Hill Barrientos, Margarito Velazquez Galicia, and Shoahib Ahmed are the plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed on Tuesday. The former two are currently in Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center, while the third plaintiff was previously detained there, but has canceled his asylum claim.

The lawsuit argues that “In one instance, Mr. Barrientos ran out of toilet paper and requested another roll from a CoreCivic officer. The CoreCivic officer told Mr. Barrientos to use his fingers to clean himself.”

It also invokes a report from the Department of Homeland Security saying the facility withheld basic necessities from detainees when their supplies ran out.

The filing says that detainees are told they can purchase hygiene products from the commissary in their detainment center. But the immigrants are only paid between $1 and $4 dollars each day in exchange for conducting sanitation tasks and serving food for six to eight hours.

In addition to the horrific work conditions detailed in the suit, the filing claims that immigrants participating in the program, which the detention center claims is voluntary, can be punished with 30 days in solitary confinement or criminal charges if they attempt to not work.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that similar cases have been filed in other states to protest the working conditions that private prison companies impose on detainees.

The filing details inhumane treatment that immigrants are forced to endure. But the descriptions merely reiterate the systemic problems with private prisons that advocates have been striving to illuminate. Private prisons benefit from incarceration. The treatment detailed in Tuesday’s lawsuit further elucidates the problems with institutions focused on making money from imprisonment.

Seeking to maximize financial profits, private prisons often cut staff. Utilizing detainees may be a cost effective way to benefit financially from immigrants who are waiting for their claims to be processed through a bureaucratic asylum system, but it can lead to gross mistreatment of people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries.

Thumbnail/Banner Image Credit: Pixabay, Free-Photos

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