From [HERE] Detainees held at a privately-operated immigration detention center in Georgia are forced to work at the facility for pitiful pay and are threatened with serious harm if they refuse to “volunteer” to work, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against the private prison operator CoreCivic.
According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of current and formerly detained immigrants, the CoreCivic-operated Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin solicits “volunteers,” or immigrants detainees, to “mop, sweep, and wax floors; scrub toilets and showers; wash dishes; do laundry, clean medical facilities; and cook and prepare food and beverages” for the nearly 2,000-detainee population. Detainees are then paid between $1 and $4 per day and occasionally slightly more for double shifts. The lawsuit states that immigrant detainees reportedly do not have a choice to refuse because the facility has a “policy of threatening detained immigrants until they comply.”
“CoreCivic then threatens detained immigrants who refuse to work with serious harm, including the deprivation of privacy and safety in open living quarters, referral for criminal prosecution, and, ultimately, the sensory and psychological deprivation of their humanity resulting from solitary confinement,” the lawsuit charged. “Under these circumstances, no labor is voluntary – it is forced.”
The class action plaintiffs include two current and one former kitchen workers who work as part of the “Voluntary Work Program” at Stewart where they are usually paid between $1 and $4 per day and can be paid as much as $8 per day when they work more than 12 hours a day.
The lawsuit — which was filed by Project South, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Law Office of R. Andrew Free, and Burns Charest LLP — was intended to end the operator’s “forced labor scheme and remedy the unjust enrichment resulting from CoreCivic’s illegal labor practices.”
“The prison corporation CoreCivic is exploiting the labor of detained immigrants to enrich itself–last year its revenues were nearly $1.8 billion. It must be stopped,” Azadeh N. Shahshahani, the Legal & Advocacy Director at the Atlanta-based advocacy group Project South, told ThinkProgress in an email Tuesday. [MORE]