Thursday, November 19, 2015

As Asylum Seekers Swap Prison Beds For Ankle Bracelets, Same Firm Profits

By John Burnett, NPR
November 13, 2015

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been under fire for opening three detention centers to hold Central American immigrant families who fled to this country seeking asylum.

Under the pressure of a federal court order, ICE is now exploring ways to release the mothers and children with alternatives to detention — but human rights activists are unhappy that the same for-profit prison company that locked up the families now manages their cases after release.

A dozen young Central American mothers in jeans and sneakers wait in a corner of the Greyhound station in downtown San Antonio. Each of them has a chunky, black, blinking device about the size of an olive jar strapped to her ankle: an electronic monitor.

An adult immigrant from El Salvador who entered the country illegally wears an ankle monitor July 27 at a shelter in San Antonio. Lawyers representing immigrant mothers held in a South Texas detention center say the women have been denied counsel and coerced into accepting ankle-monitoring bracelets as a condition of release, even after judges made clear that paying their bonds would suffice.

The women can't take off the devices — even to shower, they have to keep them charged, and they have to check in regularly with compliance officers. If they break any of these rules, they're in trouble.[...]

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