Target: U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Director Sarah Saldana
Goal: Stop depriving detained immigrants of the right to legal counsel.
The Stewart County Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia is one of the nation’s largest immigrant detention centers. The prison is run by the for-profit private prison company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The detention of immigrants at the Stewart County Detention Center is a result of a contract with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), of which part of the agreement is that CCA would install a teleconferencing system that allows immigrants to communicate with their lawyers.
But more than a year after the contract between CCA and ICE went into effect, the teleconferencing system has yet to be installed and CCA has also failed to implement policies at the Stewart County Detention Center that ensure immigrants have access to legal counsel.
Furthermore, CCA staff operating the Stewart County Detention Center have delayed and denied meetings between detainees and their lawyers. Officers and administrators at the prison also refuse to schedule attorney calls and appointments in advance, instead forcing them to travel all the way to the prison to meet with their clients, assuming Stewart County Detention Center personnel even allow the lawyers into the building at all.
If lawyers are allowed to meet with their clients in the prison, they are forced to communicate through one side of a window with a phone line that has been broken for months.
Hold CCA and ICE accountable for detaining immigrants and depriving them of their right to legal counsel.
Dear Mrs. Saldana,
Detained immigrants at the Stewart County Detention Center are being deprived of their right to counsel because of institutional failures on the part of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Detainees have the right to legal counsel in the United States and it is absolutely atrocious that both an arm of the United States government and a for-profit prison company have failed to provide that right to people who desperately need it and are constitutionally obligated to have it.
As per the contract between CCA and ICE, the Stewart County Detention Center was supposed to have an operational teleconferencing system in place for detainees to seek assistance from their lawyers. CCA failed to honor the terms of the contract and install it and ICE failed to make sure the provisions of that deal were enforced on CCA’s end. Meanwhile, detainees are being kept behind bars without access to their lawyers, a practice considered abominable and a violation of federal law.
It is with this in mind that we urge you to follow the terms of the contract between ICE and CCA and install the teleconferencing system at the Stewart County Detention Center, thereby allowing immigrants detained there to have the ability to work with their lawyers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Police