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The main gate of the privately-run Leavenworth Detention Center in a 2016 file photo. At the time, the prison’s operator was known as the Corrections Corporation of America but has since been renamed CoreCivic. Legal advocates are hoping the facility shuts down when its federal contract ends at the end of the 2021.
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Biden’s executive order on private prisons did not apply to immigration facilities, and some people who work at CoreCivic said they think the Leavenworth property could wind up housing immigration detainees.
Lawyers in Kansas who are demanding the facility shut down say it’s got a bad track record. In 2017, the Justice Department inspector general called out the place for staffing shortages. Sharon Brett of the ACLU used to work at the Justice Department investigating civil rights violations against people in prison and other institutions.
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«This is exactly the type of facility that DOJ would look at and potentially investigate for constitutional violations,» including conditions that are cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment, Brett said.
Brannon, the federal public defender, said people only know about some of the bad things happening inside the Leavenworth facility because detainees have been able to contact their lawyers with concerns. She pointed out that there’s no such right to counsel for immigration detainees.
William Rogers used to work as a corrections officer at the detention center in Leavenworth. He said he was assaulted seven times in four-and-a-half years there—including one incident that resulted in him getting 14 staples.
Rogers said he sent multiple letters to administrators warning about staffing shortages and safety concerns, starting in 2018, before he was dismissed last year for violating the use of force policy by pushing a detainee.
«ICE detainees are going to be very vulnerable in that facility,» Rogers said. «Are they going to be able to speak out or are they going to be scared?»