Ocilla, about an hour north of here,
took the private prison gamble, and now is scrambling to import
enough prisoners to fill it.
Jim Galloway wrote for the AJC 11 April 2012,
Importing illegal immigrants — into private Georgia prisons
Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville in The Nation 10 April 2012,
How One Georgia Town Gambled Its Future on Immigration Detention,
Deportations have reached record levels under President Barack
Obama, and demand for detention facilities has increased. Starting
in 2002, ICE had funding for 19,444 beds per year, according to an
ICE report. Today, ICE spends about $2 billion per year on almost
twice the number of beds.
ICE’s reliance on facilities like the Irwin County Detention Center
has put small rural towns at the center of one of today’s most
contentious policy arguments—how to enforce immigration law. A
yearlong investigation by The Nation shows how much politics has
come to rule detention policy. Even as Georgia and Alabama passed
harsh new immigration laws last year designed to keep out
undocumented immigrants, documents obtained through the Freedom of
Information Act reveal that politicians from both states were
lobbying hard to bring immigrant detainees in. ICE succumbed to the
pressure, sending hundreds of detainees to the financially unstable
facility in Georgia that promised to detain immigrants cheaply. That
promise came at the expense of the health, welfare and rights to due
process of some 350 immigrants detained daily in Ocilla.
Pass a low to eject illegal immigrants, except it really locks up
a bunch of them, but not enough to keep Ocilla’s private prison full,
so import a bunch of them back in as prisoners.
Aren’t you glad we didn’t accept a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia?
Ocilla and Irwin County didn’t just make that bad bet once,
they doubled down on it: