America’s for-profit prison industry controls 126,000 Americans’ lives. It’s a $5 billion sector — one that encompasses the operation of 65% of the nation’s immigration detention beds. And at the same time, it is largely opaque, often unaccountable to the public or the government.
Donald Trump’s presidency has quickly been a boon to its business. Within months of taking office, Trump ramped up the private sector’s role in building more immigrant detention centers. In a one-paragraph memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the Obama Administration’s policy to reduce the use of private prisons at the federal level. And just a few weeks ago, both the Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started a preliminary bidding process for contractors who have immigrant detention capacity in South Texas, Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul and Salt Lake City.