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USA: Rights groups file briefs to support plaintiffs in lawsuit against GEO Group over alleged unpaid labour at for-profit prison

"Advocacy Groups Side With Plaintiffs Alleging Unpaid Labor At For-Profit Prison", 17 Aug 2017

Advocacy groups have weighed in on a lawsuit against the nation's second-largest for-profit prison provider, arguing in recently filed "friend-of-the-court briefs" that GEO Group Inc.'s alleged practices of relying on cheap and unpaid labor by detained immigrants underscores abuses to this vulnerable community...

Over the last week, a slew of advocacy organizations, including The Southern Poverty Law Center, Public Citizen and a group of national immigrant rights groups, filed briefs that point to the broader implications of the case — noting issues around human trafficking and the for-profit prison industry. They also discussed the importance of class actions for vulnerable immigrant groups...

The lawsuit claims that GEO amassed enormous profits through "forced labor" provided to the Aurora prison through a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The suit takes aim at the company's "sanitation policy" that required ICE detainees to work as janitors without pay under the threat of solitary confinement. It also targets a "voluntary work program" that allegedly paid detainees only $1 a day. Two classes were certified by the Denver federal court that could include between 40,000 to 60,000 laborers that were detained in Aurora over the last 10 years...

In a statement, GEO responded that the volunteer work program at all of its 143 immigration facilities, as well as the minimum wage rates and standards, are set by the government...

"GEO has consistently, strongly refuted the allegations made in this lawsuit, and we intend to continue to vigorously defend our company against these claims," the company said in the statement...

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