Controversial private prison in Chicago

"This will not be a jail for justice or to serve society"

On Saturday a few thousand people marched about five miles through the city of Joliet, Illinois, which is located about thirty miles southwest of Chicago, to protest against a proposal to build a private facility, where undocumented immigrants will be detained while they await deportation.

With signs reading "No Joilet for Immigration Profit Immigration" and chanting slogans like "CCA get out", protesters raised their voices against Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which allegedly is the company responsible for mistreating and abusing detainees in prisons throughout the country.

Carmela Cruz, wife of an undocumented immigrant facing deportation, while in tears told Efe that he is the sole breadwinner in their home.

"I dread the thought of losing the house we live in and that we have not finished paying for yet. But more frightening is the separation of our family," she added.

Some residents of Joliet, like Stephen Alderson, are worried about the commercial purpose of this project because it would be "a prison for the sole purpose of profits for its investors: This will not be a jail for justice or to serve society."

According to a press release by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), at least 24 immigrants have died in detention facilities run by CCA, many for lack of medical care.

CCA is currently facing several lawsuits for alleged abuses, including allegations that an Idaho prison operated as a "gladiator school", where violence and intimidation were used to control inmates.

Protesters delivered a letter to the local government of Joliet, so that the city can call an end to the negotiations with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Another letter was also signed and was to be sent to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to annul any agreement with CCA to build prison in Illinois to house undocumented immigrants.

Currently, ICE does not have a detention center in the area and rents jail space from neighboring counties.

According to a report, ICE wants to reform the detention system for undocumented immigrants and is seeking to consolidate and reduce the number of facilities used to house detainees in the Chicago metropolitan area.


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