I was shocked and appalled to read the December 9, 2014 op-ed, “Report of nightmarish detention untrue,” by Rev. Joseph Shields of Stewart in response to the article “Living Nightmare for Detained Immigrants in Georgia” by Azadeh Shahshahani. The picture painted of this prison by Rev. Shields, an employee of the Corrections Corporation of America, bears no resemblance to my experience at Stewart.
I was detained at Stewart from January to June 2011. I crushed my toe and twisted my leg while working in the Stewart Detention Center’s kitchen for sub-minimum wages, and both injuries were undertreated.
For years, immigrant rights activists have fought to shut down a controversial immigration enforcement program operating in jails in Georgia and across the nation.
Started during the George W. Bush administration, the Secure Communities program works by comparing inmates’ fingerprints against immigration records in federal databases. Supporters say the program has substantially curbed illegal immigration. Critics say it ensnares low-level offenders with families and deep roots in the U.S.
What: Press Conference Releasing New Study "Prejudice, Policing, and Public Safety"
Where:180 Spring Street SW
When: 11:00am, Thursday July 31st, 2014
Who: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, ACLU of Georgia, and Georgia #Not1More Campaign
On Thursday morning, advocates will release a new study analyzing data received as a result of a FOIA lawsuit with ICE that outlines for the first time the practice and impact of local immigration enforcement efforts that grew under federal programs and the state law passed in 2011.
Families victimized by unjust deportation policy will speak out as part of the Georgia #Not1More campaign seeking to move Dekalb and Fulton Counties to join more than 130 jurisdictions nationwide in rejecting the ICE hold requests to keep people in extended detention due to its negative impact on public safety and constitutional violations.
The report will be made available at the press conference.
You may have heard recently about Dontadrian Bruce, the Mississippi high-school student who was almost expelled for holding up the number "3" with his fingers in a photo taken by his science teacher. Dontradian is number 3 on the football team – and despite his being an A/B student with no history of serious disciplinary problems, the school said he was making a gang sign.
This isn't the first time the school district has been quick to label a Black student a "gang member." And in fact the unnecessarily harsh treatment of students of color for misbehavior—or perceived misbehavior—at school is a huge problem across the country. Too many young people are being pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems instead of given the chance to learn from their mistakes. This phenomenon is frequently referred to as the school-to-prison-pipeline.
The primary mission of this Conference is to continue the building of a broad based Coalition that will develop strategies collectively on the approaches necessary to END the New Jim Crow in Georgia & the United States. Becoming increasingly organized locally will contribute more to the growing national movement to STOP MASS INCARCERATION.
The ACLU of Georgia has been joined by dozens of other local and national groups in seeking a Congressional investigation of two of the worst immigration detention facilities in the country, Stewart and the Irwin County Detention Center. This request comes in the face of inaction of ICE to recommendations in our May 2012 report, “Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia.” You can find the letter to the Georgia Congressional delegation here.
Which of these groups does not belong with the others: the ACLU, the tea party, Common Cause or Americans for Prosperity?
If you think they could all fit in a coalition under the Gold Dome, give yourself a peach-colored star.
This era is known for its polarization in Washington, and Georgians on the left and the right certainly have their differences about how state legislators should address certain issues. But unlike in national politics, diverse coalitions still can and do emerge on high-profile state issues.
The ACLU and Common Cause have reputations as liberal groups, particularly nationally; the tea party and Americans for Prosperity lean solidly to the right. But representatives of those four outfits, along with the libertarian Institute for Justice, are pushing legislators to change Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture laws -- which allow law enforcement to confiscate private property without a criminal conviction, or in many cases even a criminal charge.
DAY of OUTRAGE
Enough is Enough!
ts time to make Atlanta a better city for all of us.
We demand an end to the practices of profiling and harassment.
We demand solutions that do not criminalize our communities.
Tuesday, February 25th
Atlanta City Hall, Mitchell Street Entrance
2:00 Press Conference and Rally
On Friday, November 22 at 10 am, Georgia Detention Watch will hold its sixth annual vigil at Corrections Corporation of America-operated Stewart Detention Center. The vigil coincides with the release of Detention Watch Network’s (DWN) report, “Expose and Close, One Year Later: The Absence of Accountability in Immigration Detention,” The report documents the current state of the immigration detention system, afflicted by deaths and suicides, subpar medical and mental healthcare, inedible food, and arbitrary restrictions on visitation and access to legal resources.
While the congressional debate on immigration reform ensues, the mass detention of immigrants across the U.S. has been largely ignored. Located in rural Southwest Georgia, the Stewart Detention Center detains approximately 2,000 immigrant men. Stewart is one of Georgia’s four immigration detention centers and the largest in the U.S.
Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can take people's money and property without making an arrest. They just have to suspect the assets are tied in some way to illicit activity. Since much of the money police seize ends up paying their own salaries and bankrolling their departments, they have a strong incentive to abuse these laws.
If you would like to learn more about the ACLU of Georgia’s efforts to reform civil asset forfeiture in Georgia, please sign up for our legislative action alerts at http://www.acluga.org/get-involved/action-alerts/
Watch the video here: https://www.aclu.org/policing-for-profit