With Obama's federal government reducing the role of private prisons in the incarceration of Americans, companies like Corrections Corporation of America (now known as Corecivic) and GAO aggressively moved into providing detention facilities for people awaiting deportation, like the 2,000,000+ people deported under the Obama administrations.
These detention facilities were, if anything, even more cruel and inhumane than the private prisons that warehoused so many Americans. The Verge made FOIA requests to ICE for information on conditions in their privately contracted detention centers, and these documents reveal that under Obama, "life inside the facilities can be so dangerous and hostile that numerous detainees have voluntarily admitted themselves to solitary confinement just to seek refuge from the general population," and the remaining solitary confinement cells were routinely used to punish inmates for minor infractions like "horseplay" and talking back to guards, a punishment visited indiscriminately against detainees with severe mental illness.
Solitary confinement is classed as a form of torture by the UN.
Donald Trump has reversed the Obama policy of preventing private companies from providing federal prisons. The share prices of GAO and Corecivic have increased significantly since the inauguration.
In some of these cases, logs describe detainees who appear in obvious need of psychiatric help being put in isolation for long periods. One log reads that, on June 8th, 2016, CoreCivic staff placed a detainee in isolation for "standing up on his open bay bed and urinating in a cup followed by [the detainee] drinking the same urine." CoreCivic, with ICE's blessing, placed this detainee in solitary confinement for nearly a month not for mental health treatment but to discipline him for drinking his urine. The detainee had no attorney to represent him in this disciplinary action, the logs state.
In another case at Lumpkin, a mentally ill detainee was placed in disciplinary isolation because he refused "to be housed in his assigned living area because he says that he is hurting and wants to see medical, medical did see the detainee and done all that they could for the detainee."
In a case at the Texas facility, GEO Group placed a female detainee with mental illness in punitive isolation for two weeks for "making inappropriate comments to a GEO Officer while in the dormitory."
The logs contain indications of things being particularly amiss at the Lumpkin facility. As The Verge documented last week, CoreCivic placed dozens of detainees in solitary confinement for hunger striking at the facility in 2016 alone. Additional logs show that CoreCivic's facilities at Lumpkin were over capacity, causing detainees to be placed in solitary simply because there was no room elsewhere. Two logs state that CoreCivic had placed detainees in isolation simply because its medical unit had no room to house people requiring medical attention.
ICE detainees are asking to be put in solitary confinement for their own safety
[Spencer Woodman/The Verge]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Cellule du quartier d'isolement de la prison Jacques-Cartier, à travers le judas, Rennes, France, Édouard Hue, CC-BY-SA)