About 1,300 people are being held against their will here in Tacoma, and the taxpayers are paying for it. Most of them are illegal immigrants. They are being held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center on Tacoma’s Tideflats. And they are being held for profit.
The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma is run by a for-profit company called the GEO Group. It’s in GEO’s best interests that we lock up as many people as possible for as long as possible. It has spent millions backing anti-immigration candidates and legislation to shore up its profits. That alone should be disturbing to anyone as it goes contrary to the basic concept of our rule of law.
However, that’s not all that’s wrong with the GEO Group. One need only put the words “GEO Group” and “abuse” into a Google search to quickly find a litany of abuse complaints, including horrific conditions, inedible food, sexual assault, physical abuse and death.
As many as 750 inmates in the ICE facility in Tacoma participated recently in a hunger strike, citing poor conditions. Tacoma may soon be added to the growing list of cities where for-profit prison abuses have resulted in unwanted headlines. It’s clear that this company is not one that should be making money in Washington State.
There is a need for a facility such as the detention center. However, it should not be run by a for-profit company with a lengthy history of corruption and abuse.