It’s unacceptable – people detained in a private immigration detention center in San Diego allege that they have been subjected to forced labor and threatened with solitary confinement or restricted visitation rights if they refused to work. They say the company that owns the prison, CoreCivic, pays at most $1.50 per day, and sometimes nothing at all, for their work as kitchen staff, janitors, barbers and in various other roles.
Tell CoreCivic forced labor is never acceptable.
The Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which intended to end slavery, shockingly permits its use as a punishment for crime. It does not provide for the use of slavery against civil detainees in immigration centers. In addition, regulations introduced in 2015 aim to end trafficking in government contracting.
If we gather enough signatures, we can strengthen the voice of those calling for an end to forced labor of detainees. We will use our power to urge one of the largest private prison companies in the US, CoreCivic, to denounce forced labor in its Human Rights Policy Statement and verify it is enforced.
Reports of forced labor are not isolated to immigration detention centers. In Oklahoma,offenders sentenced to rehabilitation end up forced into labor on chicken farms,without any recourse or access to an actual recovery program. Prisoners in California are forced into labor, reportedly made to risk their lives fighting the state’s wildfires for a dollars an hour or considerably less, helping to generate an estimated US$58 million in profit.
We act remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s poignant words:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The United States is home to the largest prison system in the world, housing 25% of the world’s prisoners but only 5% of the global population, and spends more than $80 billion a year. Incarceration rates in the United States have increased by 700% in the last four decades, even though crime has dramatically decreased. Among those incarcerated, more than 60% are people of color. And Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men.
It’s clear that forced labor in prisons is not an immigration issue, it’s an American one, replicated worldwide. This system of mass incarceration – at a rate per capita that surpasses every country on earth – is inherently discriminatory, disproportionately affecting communities of color while creating a never-ending pool of people to be exploited through forced labor in prisons and detention centers across the country for corporate gain.
Let's urge CoreCivic to take a stand against forced labor.
Rolling back President Obama’s progress on minimizing private prison industry contracts, President Trump has called for an increase of prisons and detainment centers by upwards of 450%, perpetuating and embedding a system that exploits people of color for private benefit. Following the announcement of this policy change, CoreCivic’s share price shot up 43% in a single day. It is undoubtedly a lucrative business.
Call on CoreCivic to address allegations of forced labor.
We also ask that CoreCivic state that forced labor will not be tolerated, and to raise wages for imprisoned or detained workers to stop exploitation in its centers and prisons.
Minimum international standards around the use of prison labor are outlined in the International Labour Organization’s Forced Labor Convention. It states that prisoners, just as free persons, must not be forced to work under threat of penalty or loss of privileges. Furthermore, wages should be comparable to those of free workers and health and safety measures should be taken as well.
CoreCivic is also currently facing another class-action complaint for allegedly attempting to defraud its investors by falsely representing improved operational policies and procedures around the rights and dignity of prisoners and detainees in multiple centers. We must speak out and let them know forced labor in detention is unacceptable.
Will you join us in helping to stop slavery in detention?
Joanna, Alex, Miriam and the Freedom United Team