CCA and GEO Group contribute significantly to policies and practices that induce human suffering, and oppose those that would encourage public safety or sensible immigration policy. Both outsourced, for-profit prison companies have been found responsible for numerous human rights abuses. The companies hold on to strong federal contracts ensuring that their facilities are filled up while also pushing the government to detain enough people to satisfy the contract requirements. CCA and GEO have also been deeply involved in lobbying for harsher sentencing laws as well as larger border patrols and streamlined criminalization and civil detention for immigrants. These companies have a long record of trying to exacerbate the phenomena of mass incarceration and detention, turning the destruction of Black and Latino communities into a financial incentive.
Seattle is located only 45 minutes away from a GEO Group detention center in Tacoma. There, detainees engaged in a 55-day hunger strike to protest their conditions as well as the system that has imprisoned them. The collective of hunger strikers, which at one point went 1,200 people strong, wrote of their mistreatment and retaliation at the hands of GEO Group:
“[Our] hunger strike ...occurr[ed] in a climate of persecution, harassment and application of disciplinary punishments, invented and prefabricated by personnel from GEO (the private company that runs the Northwest Detention Center - Tacoma “NWDC – T”), with the goal of stopping us from adding our voice to the voice of those on the outside clamoring for Not1More, stop deportations, end the destruction of families, deferred action for all, yes to immigration reform; despite suffering through rigged “hearings” under false accusations, with no respect for due process, taking out of context the actions of the “accused,” impeding free exercise of ideas and the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as the right to information. In an atmosphere of voluntary and strictly peaceful action, they unleashed a chain of “disciplinary sanctions,” applying isolation and segregation to the participants who were on rolling fasts and hunger strikes, from March 24 until April 2nd, with an eye towards the great action on April 5th. These resulted in sentences of 2 to 30 days of punishment, with which they attempted and are attempting to discourage our unity in becoming a single voice regardless of whether we are on the inside or on the outside.”
The passage of a resolution in Seattle, the largest city in the State of Washington, would send a ringing message to GEO Group that its abuses have not gone unnoticed, and send a message of solidarity to the detainees and inmates held in all for-profit prisons. We believe divestment is the most effective way to combat abusive corporations like GEO and CCA because it attacks them from the place of their motivation--their pockets--and challenges the very existence of outsourced, for-profit prisons. The only way to stop corporations that are profiting off of this kind of misery is to take away the financial incentive to do so.