Campaign Update:

September 2019: California lawmakers have passed AB32, a bill that would ban private prisons — including ICE detention centers — from operating in the state. This has major implications for CoreCivic’s Otay Mesa Immigration Detention center. Read more…

Help stop forced labor of detainees

“…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?

Jan 15, 2018 Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

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DianeJoyce McDonaldLesley Laingfrederick hillkaythegardener Recent comment authors
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Joyce McDonald
Joyce McDonald


Lesley Laing
Lesley Laing

Also, if corporations must pay minimum wage for workers outside the prison system, but can hire workers inside the prison walls to do the same work at subminimum wage (compelled labor at that!) isn’t that a DISINCENTIVE for hiring and using labor outside? In effect, aren’t prisoners being compelled to compete UNFAIRLY with labor outside, even if in the guise of a training program in some state or federal prisons?

Lesley Laing
Lesley Laing

I wonder if it is useful to emphasize that corporations that use prison labor are engaging in unfair competition with corporations that hire the same (e.g., preparation of food used in prisons in commercial kitchens, or firms that do laundry on a commercial basis, or others that provide farm labor or industrial sewing, etc.) services and market either to the prisons or to the public – those corporations must pay their workers in the general market at least minimum wage.

frederick hill
frederick hill

The culture of private prisons in the US and here in Australia demonstrates that crime DOES pay. If the operators see themselves losing out they will pressure governments to categorise more offences as jailable.


Let those multimillionaire corporations foot their OWN legal bills. They got the money; now let them pay the piper!! Bail out Main Street, not Wall Street with taxpayers’ money!!

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

50,046 actions of 75,000 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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