News (49)

Private contractors paid millions to run UK detention centres

The British government has paid hundreds of millions of pounds to private contractors to run its detention facilities, but no one knows for certain just how profitable the industry is. “One of the 10 UK facilities is run by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, but the rest are contracted out to outsourcing firms G4S, Mitie, Serco and the US-owned GEO Group. (…) Commercial confidentiality agreements mean the Home Office and outsourcing companies are not obliged to publish detailed financial information about immigration detention centers in the UK. But figures released under freedom of information laws and published on the government’s Contracts Finder website show the value of some contracts when they were awarded. (…) The profitability of detention facilities has proved to be a contentious issue for the contractors. A Guardian investigation last year pointed to a 20.7% profit margin at the G4S-owned Brook House in 2016, while at Tinsley House the margin was 41.5%. (…) GEO Group, which operates Dungavel House, Scotland’s only detention center, may be making up to 30% profits on its contract, according to an analysis by Corporate Watch.”

Inside look at the “failure of privatization"

Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), provides an inside look at the “failure of privatization of our 10 railways, prisons and other public services in the ASLEF Journal. “The POA has consistently opposed budget cuts and the privatization of not just prisons but our utilities such as gas, water and electricity, along with our railways and NHS,” Gillan writes, “because successive governments have not cared about the consequences of cuts and have had an obsession with private enterprise over public services which, in real terms, is always a race to the bottom.”

Scrapping plans to build new private prisons

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Richard Burgon has set out his party’s position on tackling the prisons crisis, calling on the government to fund a five point plan, including scrapping plans to build new private prisons. “In the case of HMP Birmingham, the jail was taken out of the hands of its private operator, G4S, and returned to state control for at least six months as officials battle to reduce violence, drug use and disorder.”

The failures of privatization have become undisguisable

The failures of privatization “have long been evident. But in 2018, with the renationalization of Birmingham Prison and the East Coast Main Line, they have become undisguisable.” In March 2011, officials boasted that the privatization of the prison to G4S would “would deliver ‘innovation, efficiency and better value for money’ without ‘compromising standards.’ Seven years later, such lofty ambitions appear risible.” Nor are problems confined to Birmingham. “Britain's ‘inhumane’ prisons are crumbling, with a backlog of 80,000 repair jobs. (…) Latest figures show around a third of repairs are contracted out to private firm Amey. Almost all the rest were under Carillion and now handled by Government. Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon called it a ‘disaster’ of privatization. He said: ‘It's the disastrous effect of the Tory privatization obsession. The contract for maintenance works, worth hundreds of millions, failed to deliver savings promised.’”


For-profit prisons are in the list of prohibited investments

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey applaud the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund for adding for-profit prisons to their list of prohibited investments. There has been a wave of pension actions against firms seeking to profit from Trump administration’s shameful immigration and mass incarceration policies.

Source: American Federation of Teachers

Protest at United Nations fights the separation of immigrant families

Public sector unions have weighed in against Trump’s brutal treatment and policies on migrants, such as separating families, which are filling the coffers of private contractors, for-profit prison companies, military contractors, and NGOs. AFT President Randi Weingarten delivered a formal complaint to the United Nations on June 20, framing the inhumane immigration policy as abusive and trauma-inducing. AFSCME co-signed the complaint to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with President Lee Saunders saying “this inhumane policy is a cruel choice that does not make us safer, and it does not make us great. There is no law that mandates traumatizing children, only the prerogative of this president.”

Source: American Federation of Teachers

AFGE reported that “the massive influx of new detainees will endanger the lives of correctional officers"

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) reported that “the massive influx of new detainees will exacerbate the short-staffed prisons, endangering the lives of correctional officers, inmates, detainees themselves, and the surrounding communities. AFGE Council of Prison Locals, which represents more than 33,000 Bureau of Prisons employees nationwide, has been urging Congress to increase staffing and has pushed back against the administration’s decision to slash 6,000 positions from correctional facilities. ‘The men and women who work at the Bureau of Prisons risk their lives every day they show up to work, and now they’re being asked to jeopardize themselves further by looking after an even larger population without the proper training, support, or planning,” said Council President Eric Young. “How are our officers supposed to protect and care for these detainees when they barely have enough resources to care for the prisoners under their charge now?”


"Of the list of 149 state-run companies, two-thirds should be extinguished and the rest privatized”

Jair Bolsonaro, a right wing pre-candidate for the October presidential elections, says “of the list of 149 state-run companies existing today, he believes two-thirds should be extinguished and the rest privatized.” He also “considers [it] feasible to privatize the prison system from now onward, preserving the existing prisons under the state control.” But “Nomura economists estimated the market is pricing a 25 percent likelihood the winner will stick to an agenda of deficit-cutting and privatization, which analysts say is key to restoring Brazil's investment grade.”


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