Saturday, December 15, 2018


That warm, fuzzy feeling has taken over the government of Atlanta, Georgia.

The leftist Rewire.News reports

After a years-long grassroots campaign documenting ICE’s human rights violations in the jail, Atlanta finally ended the contract in September, realizing that it could not call itself a “welcoming city” while profiting from immigrants’ pain. As we showed in our report “Inside Atlanta’s Immigrant Cages,” scores of immigrants detained at the Atlanta City Detention Center experienced or observed human rights violations, including solitary confinement for arbitrary reasons; grossly inadequate medical and mental health care; an uncompensated labor program; intimidation and threats by the guards; extremely poor-quality food; and sexual assault.

“Atlanta will no longer be complicit in a policy that intentionally inflicts misery on a vulnerable population without giving any thought to the horrific fallout,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said before signing the executive order ending the city’s dealings with ICE. “As the birthplace of the civil rights movement, we are called to be better than this.”

Two months earlier in an Executive Order signed by Bottoms, the city formally ended its agreement with the US Marshals Service to accept detainees from ICE, three months after its new police had been announced.

The city of Atlanta could have considered demanding an end to solitary confinement for arbitrary reasons and to unpaid labor; improvement of medical care; improving the quality of food; additional training and/or personnel to counter intimidation and threats by the guards.

But no, Atlanta is a "welcoming city.  The federal government did not respond by finding more humane facilities in which to house illegal immigrants nor to detain fewer.

Uh-uh. Instead, ICE

turned elsewhere to continue feeding the detention machine. In August, the agency started detaining immigrants at the Robert A. Deyton Detention Facility in Lovejoy; we learned about this in October, not through an announcement by ICE, but by happenstance. The facility is owned by Clayton County, roughly 25 minutes away from the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The private prison corporation GEO Group leases the facility from Clayton and runs it through a contract with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The GEO Group’s detention centers have a well-documented track record of human rights violations, including lack of medical and mental health care; arbitrary solitary confinement; denial of basic hygiene products; and moldy and inedible food. Due to these horrid conditions, death, suicide, and attempted suicide are all too common in GEO-run facilities such as the Adelanto Detention Facility in California,LaSalle Detention Facility in Louisiana, Denver Contract Detention Facility, and South Texas Detention Complex.

The Robert A. Deyton Detention Center is no different, according to the detained immigrants we have spoken to as part of our work with the social-justice organization Project South. They tell us that the food is inedible, they are yelled at and cursed at by the officers, and they are put on lockdown for many hours straight.

In addition, there is inadequate medical, dental, and mental health care.

Motivated by altruistic sentiments, the city has now done its share in expanding the carceral state. GEO probably will do its part in jamming as many detainees as possible into the Deyton Detention Center.

Atlanta also has struck a blow into the idea, which took root in the Reagan Administration, that government has no role in improving the lives of its residents. Since then, a wide array of services in local, state, and national governments has been privatized, to the detriment of both consumers and taxpayers, in the mistaken notion that government is incapable of anything and must be rescued by the market.

There may be a silver lining to the action(s) taken by Mayor Bottoms.  Attention may be paid to the increasing number of inmates housed in private prisons under President Trump. If so, congressional Democrats may come to realize that criminal justice reform measures in the manner of the First Step Act are at best very modest. If not, at least Atlanta can bask in the warm glow of feeling, however inaccurately, that it has done something for immigrants.

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