“Detention-Industrial Complex” Controls Half of U.S. Detention Beds


A handful of multinational security companies have been turning crackdowns on immigration into a growing global industry, reports the New York Times. Especially in the U.S., Britain, and and Australia, governments of different stripes have increasingly looked to such companies to expand detention and show voters they are enforcing tougher immigration laws.

Some companies are huge — one is among the world’s largest private employers. They say they are meeting demand faster and less expensively than the public sector could. The ballooning of privatized detention has been accompanied by scathing inspection reports, lawsuits, and the documentation of widespread abuse and neglect, sometimes lethal. Human rights advocates say detention has not worked as a deterrent nor speeded deportation, and some worry about the creation of a “detention-industrial complex” with a momentum of its own. In the U.S., with almost 400,000 annual detentions in 2010, up from 280,000 in 2005 — private firms control nearly half of all detention beds, compared with 8 percent in state and federal prisons.

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