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27 Aug 2018

Chuck Williams, Ledger Enquirer (USA)

Immigration detainees cite ‘deplorable conditions’ inside Stewart facility in lawsuit

Immigration detainees being held in the Stewart Detention Center in south Georgia have a filed a federal lawsuit against the for-profit company that operates the 2,000-bed facility, citing “deplorable conditions” inside the prison.  The case survived its first significant legal hurdle when U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land recently denied a motion by CoreCivic Inc., the company that operates the prison, to dismiss the suit.  Plaintiffs...brought the federal class-action lawsuit against CoreCivic Inc., which operates the 2,000-bed facility in Stewart County.  The suit was brought under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the plaintiffs allege that CoreCivic operates a “deprivation scheme” in which it forces detainees to work through threats of physical violence, solitary confinement and deprivation of basic necessities...

The claims include: the bathrooms are in poor condition; some showers have no hot water...; the open dormitories house 66 people in bunk beds with no privacy...Conflict and violence occur frequently in the open dormitories, which the detainees refer to as the “Chicken Coop” because of the unsanitary conditions and overcrowding, the suit alleges...[A]ccording to the plaintiffs’ suit, there is a way out of the “Chicken Coop” and that entails working for CoreCivic in jobs that help operate the prison...One way to get money in the inmate fund is to participate in the prison’s “Voluntary Work Program.”  The jobs include scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning the medical center, preparing meals, washing detainees’ laundry and cleaning floors.  CoreCivic generally pays detainees in the program between $1 and $4 per day...