The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has extended a contract for the Corrections Corporation of America to keep running the nation’s largest family detention center as a for-profit business for another five years, reports the Huffington Post. ICE renewed the contract despite a surge of criticism against the government’s reliance on private prison contractors. The South Texas Family Residential Center, which the Obama administration hastily constructed in 2014 to detain a sudden influx of Central American mothers and children, has faced its own controversies, with lawsuits questioning the legality of the White House’s family detention policy.
The Department of Justice announced in August that the Bureau of Prisons would phase out its use of private prison contractors after finding that those businesses had more security problems than government-run facilities and did not always save money. The new policy does not apply to immigrant detention centers, but Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has ordered a review to determine whether ICE should follow the Justice Department’s lead in reducing its reliance on for-profit detention. Under CCA’s extended contract, the company will receive less money than before to run the Texas center. The original contract was worth nearly $1 billion over four years and the company received the money regardless of how many people were locked up there.