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ACLU report cites violations in privately run Texas prisons

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Texas [advocacy websites] released a report [text, PDF] Tuesday exposing the results of a multi-year investigation into conditions at five Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) [BOP backgrounder] prisons in Texas. There are 13 CAR prisons in the US—privately run prisons that house only non-citizens, most of whom have only been convicted of an immigration offense such as illegally entering the US. The report, Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison Industry, reveals "shocking abuse and mistreatment" at the five CAR prisons in Texas, which house almost 14,000 prisoners. Among the abuses reported are overcrowding, subjecting an excessive number of prisoners to solitary confinement (often in retaliation for complaining), limiting family contact and excluding prisoners from rehabilitation programs and medical care. The report asserts that the BOP and the three companies that run the CAR prisons willfully cover up the neglect and abuse that occur at the prisons. The ACLU recommends stronger executive oversight of the CAR prisons to end such practices as the use of occupancy quotas that cause overcrowding and the lack of transparency preventing public disclosure of basic information about the prisons. It is also recommending the Department of Homeland Security and Justice "to return immigration enforcement to civil immigration authorities."

The ACLU has a long history of advocating for the rights of prisoners. The organization's National Prison Project [advocacy website], founded in 1972, has worked to ensure that US prisons are constitutionally compliant and that prisoners are afforded safe, healthy and humane conditions. In February the ACLU released [JURIST report] a report about several Ohio counties that imprisoned people unable to pay court fines, which prompted Ohio's Supreme Court to issue a warning to lower state-court judges to end the "unconstitutional" policy. In June 2012 another ACLU report [JURIST report] urged the release of aging prisoners it claims pose no threat to society yet cost taxpayers millions of dollars. In April 2010 the ACLU campaigned [JURIST report] for Alabama to stop segregating prisoners with HIV from the general prison population as it fosters discrimination and poor treatment of HIV-infected prisoners. In January 2009 the ACLU criticized [JURIST report] and urged an end to the practice of tube-feeding Guantanamo Bay prisoners on hunger strikes.

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