Private Prison, GEO Group, Works Immigrant Asylum Seekers For Pennies, Price Gouges Them For Commissary Food: Report
Hundreds of immigrants seeking asylum are being held captive in the Adelanto Detention Facility, owned by the GEO Group Inc, a private prison corporation.
Some of the immigrants are working in the facility for one dollar a day, and being price gouged by the prison commissary, notes Reuters:
A can of commissary tuna sold for $3.25. That is more than four times the price at a Target store near the small desert town of Adelanto, about two hours northeast of Los Angeles. Cruz stuck with ramen noodles at 58 cents a package, double the Target price. A miniature deodorant stick, at $3.35….
Immigrants and activists say GEO Group “deliberately skimps on essentials, even food, to coerce detainees to labor for pennies an hour to supplement meager rations.”
GEO Group spokesperson Pablo Paez claimed the allegations are “completely false,” and said the meals are approved by dieticians, but did not name them.
Paez said the labor program is voluntary, and wage rates are federally mandated.
A 2018 report by Newsweek contradicts that “mandated” claim by noting a higher range for prison labor
Approximately 62,000 workers at government-run facilities participate in correctional industries programs, producing manufactured goods to sell to other state agencies and sometimes nonprofits, Director of Operations at the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA) Wil Heslop told Newsweek. These jobs pay slightly higher than maintenance positions, with inmates earning an hourly wage of between 33 cents and $1.41, depending on their pay rate.
GEO Group told Reuters that it contracts with outside vendors to run its commissaries, whose prices “are in line with comparable local markets,” which is not true, according to the Reuters’ report.
GEO Group said it makes a “minimal commission” on commissary items, but did not say how much.
GEO Group claimed most of the money goes into a “welfare fund” to buy recreational equipment and other items for detainees, but did not show any financials to back up that claim.
While relatives can send money electronically to fund their immigrants’ commissary accounts, GEO Group reportedly pockets as much as 10 percent of that money as well.
GEO Group executives partied lavishly at Trump’s Miami golf resort after landing a $110 million federal contract in 2017, noted the Washington Post. The federal contract came months after the GEO Group donated six figures to a pro-Trump super PAC, reported Law & Crime.