It would appear that the U.S. is about to become a country where it is acceptable to incarcerate babies and children indefinitely – in two private jails in Texas, if legislation written by a for-profit, private prison organization passes both chambers, that is.
For Families Or For-Profit?
May 8 saw the passing of the bill in the Texas Senate that licenses “baby jail” family detention centers, while at the same time potentially seeing childcare regulations that apply to other facilities that hold children, waived.
In other words, the safety of children is not on the for-profit prisons’ minds.
Bill SB 1018 gives broad authority to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to waive existing legal childcare standards so that the family detention centers can be licensed to hold children. Current regulations state that family centers must follow the same safety rules and regulations that regular child care facilities do.
The federal government that uses the facilities can currently only hold babies and children for a few days at a time. If SB 1018 passes the house, is signed, and goes into effect, it would allow mothers to be held with their children for as long as it takes to resolve their asylum cases. For some, it takes years.
State Sen. José Rodríguez, a Democrat said
“The bottom line is these are prisons, and there’s no question about that. There may be some TVs here and there, some bunk beds, but it is a secure facility, a baby jail.”
Representative John Raney, R-College Station is the author of the identical House version of the bill, and he admitted to the Associated Press that the legislation was authored by GEO Group.
SB 1018 was written by GEO Group Inc., the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison corporation. The organization is paid $55 million a year to run the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas. This family detention center south of San Antonio that was the subject of a Los Angeles Times exposé in 2015 and while dozens of people spoke against the Bill in Committee, only four spoke for it – three of whom were GEO employees.
Once again, the U.S. is punishing children and babies who have no choice in the matter.
Featured Image: YouTube Video.