Private Prisons to “child care facilities”?

This week, I found an article from the Huffington Post that speaks out against a recent movement by the Obama administration to turn private prisons into “licensed child care facilities.”  As many of you may think (I did), what would be the motive?  Apparently, refugee families are being detained in private prisons after they fled from Central and South America.

Since last summer, more and more of these refugees have been funneled into crowded private institutions by the U.S. government.  These facilities lack even the smallest comforts such as heating.  Mothers and their children are suffering from “poor health, weight loss, diarrhea, bed-wetting, and nightmares.”

This article was actually written yesterday in attempt to get out the word that the government is trying to license these facilities as “family residential centers.”  This is all coming up now because last year, a federal judge declared this type of detainment as a violation from a supreme court case known as Flores.  Basically, this just ensures that all detainment facilities must be “safe and sanitary.”    So, tomorrow, the Obama administration and the DHS will argue that these facilities should be licensed to allow them to continue this practice.  The argument will be made tomorrow.

I bring this up because it shows how these private prisons can be used as tools for anyone with money (even the government) to circumvent long-standing rules that could not be circumvented otherwise.  There are innocent children being held in prison.  If the ruling is overturned because of the arguments made tomorrow, then this will continue to grow and more people will be held in facilities that are worse than actual prisons.

What do you think about private prisons being used as prisons for refugee women and their children?




8 thoughts on “Private Prisons to “child care facilities”?”

  1. First off, you did a great job of using current resources since the argument hasn’t even been made yet, but it gives us all something to think about before they make a final decision. Since I was unaware of this situation, you brought to my attention from this article that so many women and children are living in these prisons, it saddens me to think that those are the conditions that they are forced to live in. Seeing that they have no other option for a place to go, I assume they are trying to make the best of the situation. I think the government should at least do the bare minimum to make the prison sanitary for these women and children. They don’t even have to do that much, just make it so it isn’t so miserable. By doing just a few little things it still wouldn’t be the best place to live, but it will at least be more comfortable.


    1. Thanks! I hadn’t used a current article or source yet so I thought it would be informative for the class to hear about the things that are going on today within my topic. I actually waited this long to respond to these comments because I was hoping I could find an update on what happened. Sadly, I haven’t found any information on the ruling. Maybe the judge is making a decision or will be soon. Anyway, as to your other point, if these families weren’t in the prisons, they would most likely be deported back to the country that they tried to escape from. Honestly, I do not know which is worse because, really, they are simply being held in these prisons until their deportation can be processed…


  2. Wow! I was so unaware of this so I think it’s great you’re bringing awareness and addressing this topic. I think the fact they are being held at prisons is really surprising-but what do the refugees put in prison say about it? I’m kind of confused if the government thinks they are helping them or if they consider this as punishment. What is the alternative for refugees? Would they be homeless or going hungry on the streets-or is this against their will and choice to be held in prisons? I can’t imagine that it is an ideal scenario as the negative repercussions don’t seem fair for innocent people, but would they be going hungry and sick on the streets if they weren’t here? Great post!


    1. Thanks for the comment! As to your questions about the alternatives for the refugees, I mentioned in a previous comment that the alternative for them would be deportation back to the country the tried to escape from. So, I can’t say which scenario would be better for them. As for the government, they need a place to hold the immigrants and the private institutions want more prisoners to gain more revenue. There don’t seem to be any good intentions in this situation.


  3. I am so surprised to hear about this. How do these private prisons run and how are so many people unaware of their existence? I think it’s strange that they are trying to make prisons “licensed childcare facilities” instead of actually creating facilities for these refugees. How long do the families stay in these prisons? and who decides that they should reside there? It’s crazy that DHS and the Obama administration will attempt to allow these facilities to continue to operate. Thanks for bringing attention to this topic, it was interesting to read about!


    1. I was just as surprised as you to hear about this. The government actually pays these institutions to hold the refugees, and that has become an increased portion of private prison revenue in recent years. As far as I can tell, the Obama administration has made the decision to hand the refugees to these facilities and the refugees stay in the facilities as long as it takes the government to deport them. However, I think it would be a great alternative to this situation to make actual facilities for refugees, as you said. This way, the government would have somewhere to house them, but they wouldn’t be in such poor conditions. Thanks for commenting!


  4. Fascinating post! I believe that this attempted “re-branding” represents all that is wrong with the justice system in our country to this day. Rather than face the issue head on, the federal government decides to utilize any loopholes possible to save money. I do understand that the government has budget restrictions, but I have little sympathy when it comes to human rights. No child, man, or woman deserves to be left in a facility like this (ie a prison) for extended periods while the government decides what is right or wrong for immigrants. Time and time again I’ve read articles about inhumane treatment of inmates in our prison system, and it makes me wonder if the punitive nature of it all is working. Most of the immigrants held in these facilities probably have done nothing wrong other than crossing the border without a visa or green card, and yet the way they are treated is like hardcore criminals.


    1. You are exactly right. These immigrants have done nothing but cross the border. While I realize that the U.S. has immigration restrictions and I can respect that, this is not the way to handle them. A majority of the “prisoners” are women and children in these specific facilities. I’m sure we (including the government) can all agree that innocent children do not deserve to be imprisoned. As someone else commented earlier, perhaps the government could designate real facilities for these refugees that aren’t prisons and more like housing facilities. I’m glad everyone has found this topic interesting and worthwhile; thanks for commenting!


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