Georgia Detention Watch and human rights groups hold Stewart Detention Center Vigil V:
“No More Profits Off Our Pain”
November 18 at 10 am in Lumpkin, Georgia
Advocates call for the for-profit detention center to be shut down
Atlanta, GA – On Friday, November 18 at 10 am, Georgia Detention Watch will hold its fifth annual vigil at Corrections Corporation of America’s Stewart Detention Center. “This year’s vigil will highlight the traumatic impact of detention on the families, especially children of those detained, while CCA continues to secure record-breaking profits off of human misery,” said Georgia Detention Watch Steering Committee member, Priscilla Padrón of Atlanta.
Families that have been directly impacted by detention at Stewart will play a major role in this year’s vigil. In 2010, Emily Guzman spoke on behalf of her husband, Pedro, who was detained inside Stewart for 19 months. Emily’s mother, Pamela Alberda and seven others were also arrested for a nonviolent act of civil disobedience at last year’s vigil as they demanded the release of her son-in-law. Earlier this year, victory was declared by advocates as Pedro was granted relief and reunited with his family. He will now address those in attendance at the vigil himself as a legal permanent resident of the United States.
“There’s so much money they make from us, but they’re not investing any money in detainees,” Pedro Guzman said in an interview upon his release from the for-profit detention center in the remote town of Lumpkin, population 1300. “The treatment you get is like you’re an animal. I have two dogs, and I treat my dogs much better than the detainees are treated in there.”
Others directly affected by the for-profit detention of immigrants at Stewart will also attend this year’s vigil, including Lilian Quiroz.
Quiroz’s husband, Paul, entered the United States in 1984 when he was only 11 years old and now has two children and a wife in a familial crisis as his detention at Stewart goes on for five months with no end in sight.
“It is time to close this for-profit detention center and end the mandatory detention of immigrants,” said Anton Flores-Maisonet of Georgia Detention Watch.
Additional individuals slated to speak at the vigil include Theresa El-Amin, a veteran of the civil rights movement and representative of the Southern Anti-Racist Network; Flores-Maisonet; Bryan Holcomb, a former employee-turned-whistleblower of Corrections Corporation of America’s Stewart Detention Center; and Azadeh Shahshahani of the ACLU of Georgia.
§ About the Stewart Detention Center
Located in rural Southwest Georgia, the Stewart Detention Center detains approximately 2,000 immigrant men for deportation proceedings. Stewart, the largest immigrant detention center in the U.S., is operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a Nashville-based corporation with revenue of $1.7 billion in 2010; CEO Damon Hinninger received a compensation package of $3,266,387 the same year. The average cost to the tax payer to house each detainee is $122 per day per bed.
Case-by-case data also show that the highest proportion of deportation orders in the country (98.8 percent) were issued by the judges in the Lumpkin, Georgia Immigration Court.
§ Conditions at Stewart: Substandard and Inhumane
An April 2009 report by Georgia Detention Watch on conditions at Stewart documented violations of ICE’s own detention standards at the facility. The report charged that food and medicine are withheld as punishment and that solitary confinement is routinely imposed without a disciplinary hearing. In March 2009, Roberto Martinez Medina, a 39-year-old immigrant held at Stewart died of a treatable heart infection. To this day, many unanswered questions surround his death. Additionally, Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen formerly detained at Stewart, has a lawsuit pending against the U.S. government for his wrongful detention and deportation.
§About Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)
2010 revenue: $1.7 billion
Prisoner capacity: 90,037
Year founded: 1983
Headquarters: Nashville, Tenn.
Head: Damon Hininger (president and CEO)
Executive compensation: $3,266,387 compensation package for Hininger in 2010 (according to Morningstar)
Sources: CCA: 2010 Annual Letter to Shareholders; A Quarter Century of Service to America; About CCA; Morningstar, Corrections Corporation of America, Key Executive Compensation.
Anton Flores-Maisonet, Georgia Detention Watch, 706-302-9661, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead Sponsor: Georgia Detention Watch
Collaborators and Endorsers:
School of the Americas Watch
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
Asian American Legal Advocacy Center
Atlanta Friends Meeting Social Concerns Committee
Coalicion de Lideres Latinos of Dalton
Cobb Immigrant Alliance
Detention Watch Network
Georgia Immigrants and Refugees Rights Coalition
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
Georgia Peace and Just Coalition
Georgia Rural Urban Summit
International Action Center
International Center of Atlanta
Southern Anti-Racism Network
Southerners on New Ground
Georgia Detention Watch is a coalition of organizations and individuals that advocates alongside immigrants to end the inhumane and unjust detention and law enforcement policies and practices directed against immigrant communities in our state. Our coalition includes activists, community organizers, persons of faith, lawyers, and many more.
Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others.