FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 13 December 2011 MEDIA ADVISORY
NEW JERSEY RESIDENTS CONTINUE TO OCCUPY FREEHOLDERS MEETING TO OPPOSE IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTER
Passions still running high over Essex County Freeholders’ decision to house immigrant detainees for profit at local jail and adjacent privately owned facility; hundreds more signatures on petition at Change.org to revoke the ICE contract to be presented; outraged citizens to attend Freeholders meeting to deliver message of “People before Profit.”
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ – Outraged New Jersey residents will be participating in a second “Occupy the Freeholders” action on Wednesday December 14th at the Essex County Freeholders meeting to convey the message that Essex County Freeholders needs to put people before profit and forgo the approval of an immigration detention sub-contract that will enrich the for-profit prison operator of Delaney Hall.
The actions are being organized by members of Occupy Newark and other Occupy movements Catholic social justice group Pax Christi NJ, as well asmore than 18 human rights and religious organizations, including Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, NJ DREAM Act Coalition, Action 21, Wind of the Spirit, IRATE & First Friendsand individuals who signed a petition on Change.org calling for a revoking of the contract between Essex County and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
WHAT: Occupy the Freeholders
WHERE: 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Room 506 Newark, NJ
WHEN: Wednesday December 14th at 7 p.m.
Last week, at the regularly scheduled freeholders meeting, nearly 20 community members, immigrant rights activists and members of clergy spoke before the freeholder board to deliver the message that immigration detention is an inhumane system and that profiting from such a system is immoral. A petition started on Change.org was presented to the freeholders with more than 3,000 signatures in opposition to an expanded contract with a local jail that houses immigrant detainees for profit.
During last week’s meeting a member of the Essex County administration coined a new phrase to refer to ICE detainees. It was “revenue generating inmates” and it brought with it a whole new form of ire from the already outraged protesters. “While people are being torn away from their communities, they talk about dollars. While people are being torn away from their families, they talk dollars. While human beings are suffering, all they can talk about is dollars. We are human beings, not commodities, “said Melissa Lozano, legislative coordinator for the NJ DREAM Act Coalition.
“We are outraged that Essex County is using the incarceration of people to raise revenue and keep property taxes from rising while it spends $4.3 million on a luxury restaurant so that the Essex County Executive can throw a lavish holiday party at which both Freeholder Luciano and John Clancy [the CEO of CEC] are in attendance. Locking people up for profit would not fall fit anyone’s definition of ‘putting people first’” said Kathy O’Leary, referring to last week’s Essex County holiday party that was held at the recently opened McLoone’s Boathouse and Essex County’s motto.
O’Leary, who launchedan online campaign on Change.org calling fora community oversight board and immediate improvement of the conditions at the jail for immigrant detainees, as well as a full termination of the contract is a member of Pax Christi NJ, one of the groups organizing the rally. A large coalition of faith groups, NJ DREAMers,Occupy Wall Street protesters, and human rights organizations are asking that the Freeholders vote against a subcontract to house immigrant detainees expected to be awarded to Education & Health Centers of America (EHCA) the non-profit affiliate who will in turn sub-contract operations to Community Education Centers (CEC), in order to avoid revealing campaign contributions and to skirt a NJ State law prohibiting a for-profit company from holding a similar contract with Essex County for a half-way house. CEC is a company with a spotty record and one that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Essex County politicians. In 2004, CEC closed the Wynona M. Lipman facility after years of complaints of abuse including the severe beating by staff members of a 17-year old inmate in September of 2003.
Kathy O’Leary, Petition Creator, 973-610-1684, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Mejia, Spanish-speaking event organizer, 201-563-1062, email@example.com
Gabriela Garcia, Organizer, Change.org, (202) 684-2552, firstname.lastname@example.org
Live signature totals from the Kathy O’Leary and Pax Christi NJ’s campaign:
For more information on Pax Christi NJ, please visit:
Pax Christi NJ is part of Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic organization, reaching over a half-million Catholics directly every year. We have over 400 local groups throughout the United States, over 100 bishop members, 700 parish sponsors, 600 religious communities, and 50 college and high school chapters.
For more information on Change.org, please visit:
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.