Help stop forced labor in U.S. detention -
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Campaign Update:

February 25, 2019: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released his report investigating conditions in immigration detention centers in California. Whilst we welcome this report, we are disappointed that the issue of forced labor in detention is not addressed in detail. Read the full report here.

Help stop forced labor of detainees

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“…detainees began to work in the kitchen just so they could eat more…one detainee lost 68 lbs. Their ‘volunteering’ involved literally working for food.”1

Immigrants detained in a private prison in San Diego allege that they have been subjected to forced labor and threatened with solitary confinement or restricted visitation rights if they refused to work.2

The complainants say the company that owns the prison, CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison companies in the US, pays at most $1.50 per day, and sometimes nothing at all, for their work as kitchen staff, janitors, barbers and in various other roles.

But reports of forced labor are not isolated to immigration detention centers. In Oklahoma, offenders sentenced to rehabilitation end up forced into labor on chicken farms, without any recourse or access to an actual recovery program.3 Prisoners in California are forced into labor and made to risk their lives fighting the state’s wildfires for a dollar an hour or less.4

Forced labor in prisons is not an immigration issue, it’s an American one, replicated worldwide.

The United States is home to the largest prison system in the world, housing 25% of the world’s prisoners but only 5% of the global population, and spends more than $80 billion a year. Incarceration rates in the United States have increased by 700% in the last four decades, even though crime has dramatically decreased.5 Among those incarcerated, more than 60% are people of color. And Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men.6

This system of mass incarceration – at a rate per capita that surpasses every country on earth – is inherently discriminatory, disproportionately affecting communities of color while creating a never-ending pool of people to be exploited through forced labor in prisons and detention centers across the country for corporate gain.

Rolling back President Obama’s progress on minimizing private prison industry contracts, President Trump has called for an increase of prisons and detainment centers by upwards of 450%, perpetuating and embedding a system that exploits people of color for private benefit.7

The Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which intended to end slavery, shockingly permits its use as a punishment for crime.8 CoreCivic claims to align with international standards but over the years has faced multiple complaints for violating prisoners’ rights.9

CoreCivic must address allegations of forced labor, state that forced labor will not be tolerated, and raise wages for voluntary work by prisoners and detainees, that is comparable with free labor, to help stop exploitation.

CoreCivic is also currently facing another class-action complaint for allegedly attempting to defraud its investors by falsely representing improved operational policies and procedures around the rights and dignity of prisoners and detainees in multiple centers.10 We must speak out and let them know forced labor in detention is unacceptable.

Will you join us in helping to stop slavery in prison?

  • February 25, 2019: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released his report investigating conditions in immigration detention centers in California. Whilst we welcome this report, we are disappointed that the issue of forced labor in detention is not addressed in detail. Read the full report here.

  • February 22, 2019: We joined our partner, Detainee Allies, handing in 43,106 signatures to the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra! Atty. Gen. Becerra is due to release a report in March 2019 investigating conditions in immigration detention centers in California.

  • November 7, 2018: Colorado has officially abolished slavery in detention! This week, voters in Colorado voted to pass Amendment A which will remove language from the state’s constitution that allows involuntary servitude as a form of criminal punishment. Read more on the story here and join our call on CoreCivic to act.

  • August 28, 2018: Across the United States, inmates are planning strikes for 19 days to protest conditions in detention, including exploiting them for forced labor.

  • July 13, 2018: This Friday, we are going to be on the streets in London standing in solidarity with everyone calling for change in the current U.S administration’s policies. If you’d like to join us, let us know by emailing us here!

  • May 2018: Pressure is mounting as two new cases have been brought against CoreCivic where plaintiffs allege forced labor, in Texas earlier this year, and Georgia, last month. Both cases are ongoing. Click here to read more.

Jan 15, 2018 Campaign Launches

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Robin MunkelwitzJonathan RatzlaffJune O'DonnellTony LobelloRachel Recent comment authors
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Robin Munkelwitz
Robin Munkelwitz

It’s it’s plain old slavery by no other name I don’t know what else you would call it

Jonathan Ratzlaff
Jonathan Ratzlaff

No one should profit off the misery of others. No private corporation should have the ability to exploit individuals for their profit. I worked for the Correctional Service of Canada for 30+ years, so I have first hand experience working in a prison system.

Tony Lobello
Tony Lobello

Prisons were to be for rehabilitation in almost all cases. What we have come to is pure punishment with little or no rehabilitation. Proof is in the number of people who, after being released, are returned to prison. The system is simply not working.
Education, job training, and a system that can place released prisoners in a job that is sufficient to support them should be the foundation of the prison system. The bias against ‘ex cons’ can only be changed by educating the public.


White folks in America is just Evil. Y’all build for profit prisons, only put who you want in them. For example when black folks was going threw the crack and heroin epidemic white folks were resolute in incarcerating us. But now white folks got an opioid problem it’s an illness you say, well I say an eye for an eye lock their asses up and see how that feels. See how it feels when your little white drug addict sons and daughters are getting 18 cents an hour for work! Fuck out of here with that!

Martin Molteno

THINK !!!! Its the abuse / mismanagement / dishonesty / stupidity that is the problem, not the labour… Working in detention if properly managed, would be a privilege.
Being paid a SMALL % of your work, to be invested on your behalf upon your release, Would be a great and uplifting encouragement to go straight….
Being paid a SMALL % of your work would make workers more enthusiastic and better workers and would benefit the jail company….
THINK.!!! …Make it work….Don’t kill it…


You must be white! Because black and brown people are disproportionately incarcerated, and imprisoned for crimes that their white counterparts commit equally or more crimes( since its more of you) but the prison system doesn’t reflect that. Black and brown people have been enslaved in this country for over 400 years and you want to make money off their backs paying them $0.18 cents an hour. Shame on you and may the Most High reek havick on you life , health and those of ALL your family members.

CoreCivic: Help stop forced labor in the U.S. prison & detention system

45,203 actions of 50,000 goal

To: Damon T. Hininger, President and CEO, CoreCivic

We welcome CoreCivic’s stated commitment to human rights laid out in your Human Rights Policy Statement1 but express our deep concern regarding recent allegations of forced labor in the Otay Mesa Detention Center set out in a pending class action lawsuit, which suggests this commitment is not being met.

Noting the allegations against CoreCivic, the increasing use of forced labor against civil detainees in immigration centers, and as one of the country’s largest providers of prison and detention services, we urge CoreCivic to:

– Address forced labor allegations at Otay Mesa and provide remediation where required;

– Add explicit language denouncing forced labor to the company’s Human Rights Policy Statement, with measures to verify that it is enforced and enacted across all company sites; and

– Raise the wages paid to detainees for voluntary work to a level that is comparable for free workers, as set out in International Labour Organization standards.

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