(Adds statement from Bureau of Prisons, MTC)
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas, June 10 Private prisons holding
more than 25,000 people who violated U.S. immigration laws are
cutting corners to generate profits and subjecting inmates to
systematic abuse, a report released on Tuesday by the American
Civil Liberties Union said.
The Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons, five of which
are located in Texas and eight in other states, have drawn
little attention and oversight, while subjecting inmates to
"shocking abuse and mistreatment," the report said.
"Putting profit before people seems to touch every facet of
life at CAR prisons," the report said.
"The U.S. Bureau of Prison's reliance on private prisons is
unlikely to end any time soon."
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) spent about $600 million in the
2013 fiscal year to pay for what it calls the "privately
operated institutions," according to the ACLU.
The bureau said it takes the allegations seriously but will
not comment on the report's specifics. It added the bureau's
low-security institutions are overcrowded and it monitors the
private prisons closely.
"The bureau has found that contracting with the private
sector provides an effective means of managing low security,
specialized populations," it said in a statement.
One of the three companies that run the prisons, Corrections
Corporation of America did not reply to requests for
comment. The two other companies, MTC and the GEO Group,
denied the report's allegations, saying their facilities are
appropriately equipped and accredited.
"Our facilities adhere to strict contractual
requirements and standards set by the Federal Bureau of Prisons,
and the agency employs full-time, on-site contract monitors who
have a physical presence at GEO's facilities," it said.
The ACLU report said the prison contract between the BOP and
providers are for "low security, short-term, sentenced criminal
aliens" and call for prisons to use 10 percent of their beds for
isolation cells, a figure double or triple what is used in many
This leads to the widespread use of solitary confinement for
minor prison infractions, the report said.
Overcrowding is endemic, while medical facilities are not as
well equipped as those offered in other prison systems, it said.
Prison operator MTC said: "The allegations that we provide
poor medical care are unfounded."
The number of immigrants entering these facilities rose
sharply after new zero-tolerance immigration policies were
implemented in 2005 in which many immigrants subject to
deportation for violating U.S. immigration law were also
referred to U.S. authorities for prosecution, it said.
The ACLU report was based on an investigation that started
in 2009 and focused on the prisons in Texas. Nearly 300
detainees were interviewed and several sites visited.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Beech, Bernard