If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

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Hugh Akston
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Hugh Akston » 22 Jul 2019, 17:08

I imagine that doctors working in prisons or the military probably have to swear some kind of service oath like any public employees, and probably find themselves walking fine lines from time to time. But an ideological commitment to locking children in dangerous and unsanitary conditions does seem like it would be difficult to square with the 'do no harm' ethos.

Fortunately, one thing the Trump Administration excels at is finding people who can fake their way past credential requirements and are flexible enough in their ethics for the right price.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Jennifer » 22 Jul 2019, 17:12

Taktix® wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 16:50
Per NPR:

So GEO Group, one of the private prison companies running some of the migrant camps, is posting jobs for doctors on medical job boards that offer $400k annually for only two years of experience (this is apparently very high) and no board certification, and lists a job requirement that applicants have an "ideological commitment to the goals of this facility".

In addition to this Mengele-esque creepiness, loyalty oaths apparently present unique problems for doctors given the whole Hippocratic Oath thingy...
Instead of "Mengele," could you maybe find some other bad-doctor allusion to use? Remember: if you compare what we're doing now to anything the Germans did between 1933 and 1945, you run the risk of people not taking you seriously. Nazi analogies are appropriate only in the dismissive form, as in "Yeah, well, maybe Trump has been encouraging his followers to commit acts of political violence against critics, but that's not exactly Kristallnacht." So if you MUST mention Mengele, it should be done like this: "Yeah, well, maybe our camp operators are offering super-high salaries to doctors with no board certification and limited experience provided said doctors are ideologically sound, but that's not exactly Mengele doing his revolting experiments on twins."
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 22 Jul 2019, 17:14

Hi, Doctor Nick!

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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Jake » 22 Jul 2019, 17:18

Taktix® wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 16:50
Per NPR:

So GEO Group, one of the private prison companies running some of the migrant camps, is posting jobs for doctors on medical job boards that offer $400k annually for only two years of experience (this is apparently very high) and no board certification, and lists a job requirement that applicants have an "ideological commitment to the goals of this facility".

In addition to this Mengele-esque creepiness, loyalty oaths apparently present unique problems for doctors given the whole Hippocratic Oath thingy...
Hey, I'm not board certified, and I have two years of experience not being board certified, and I even have an "ideological commitment to the goals of this facility"! I should apply right now!

(It's not *my* fault that they didn't specify exactly what sort of commitment I must have to those goals...)
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by thoreau » 22 Jul 2019, 17:28

I'm pretty sure that the written documentation indicates that the goals of the facility involve humane treatment of people being accorded all due process and legal rights as their immigration process unfolds. Much like there is paperwork saying that waterboarding is in no way torture, or the way that the Soviet Constitution expressed strong support for human rights. So any doctor agreeing to work there will only have to sign a piece of paper indicating things that no doctor could object to, while enabling a system that plenty of decent people would object to.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Taktix® » 22 Jul 2019, 17:44

Jennifer wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 17:12
Taktix® wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 16:50
Per NPR:

So GEO Group, one of the private prison companies running some of the migrant camps, is posting jobs for doctors on medical job boards that offer $400k annually for only two years of experience (this is apparently very high) and no board certification, and lists a job requirement that applicants have an "ideological commitment to the goals of this facility".

In addition to this Mengele-esque creepiness, loyalty oaths apparently present unique problems for doctors given the whole Hippocratic Oath thingy...
Instead of "Mengele," could you maybe find some other bad-doctor allusion to use? Remember: if you compare what we're doing now to anything the Germans did between 1933 and 1945, you run the risk of people not taking you seriously. Nazi analogies are appropriate only in the dismissive form, as in "Yeah, well, maybe Trump has been encouraging his followers to commit acts of political violence against critics, but that's not exactly Kristallnacht." So if you MUST mention Mengele, it should be done like this: "Yeah, well, maybe our camp operators are offering super-high salaries to doctors with no board certification and limited experience provided said doctors are ideologically sound, but that's not exactly Mengele doing his revolting experiments on twins."
Nope, it's Mengele. Because they're concentration camps. Even Godwin himself, in all his outsized influence, has suspended his law when it comes to the alt-Right: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/0 ... -by-godwin
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Jennifer » 22 Jul 2019, 17:54

Taktix® wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 17:44
Jennifer wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 17:12
Taktix® wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 16:50
Per NPR:

So GEO Group, one of the private prison companies running some of the migrant camps, is posting jobs for doctors on medical job boards that offer $400k annually for only two years of experience (this is apparently very high) and no board certification, and lists a job requirement that applicants have an "ideological commitment to the goals of this facility".

In addition to this Mengele-esque creepiness, loyalty oaths apparently present unique problems for doctors given the whole Hippocratic Oath thingy...
Instead of "Mengele," could you maybe find some other bad-doctor allusion to use? Remember: if you compare what we're doing now to anything the Germans did between 1933 and 1945, you run the risk of people not taking you seriously. Nazi analogies are appropriate only in the dismissive form, as in "Yeah, well, maybe Trump has been encouraging his followers to commit acts of political violence against critics, but that's not exactly Kristallnacht." So if you MUST mention Mengele, it should be done like this: "Yeah, well, maybe our camp operators are offering super-high salaries to doctors with no board certification and limited experience provided said doctors are ideologically sound, but that's not exactly Mengele doing his revolting experiments on twins."
Nope, it's Mengele. Because they're concentration camps. Even Godwin himself, in all his outsized influence, has suspended his law when it comes to the alt-Right: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/0 ... -by-godwin
Godwin aside, I have been assured by VerySeriousPeople™ that VerySeriousPeople™ do NOT use Nazi comparisons for anything short of gas chambers. The only proper lesson for a proper American to learn from that chapter of history is "Hey, we're not THAT* bad!"

*at least not yet. Of course, even the original Nazis weren't THAT bad after Hitler had only been in power for 2.5 years.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Taktix® » 22 Jul 2019, 18:06

thoreau wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 17:28
I'm pretty sure that the written documentation indicates that the goals of the facility involve humane treatment of people being accorded all due process and legal rights as their immigration process unfolds. Much like there is paperwork saying that waterboarding is in no way torture, or the way that the Soviet Constitution expressed strong support for human rights. So any doctor agreeing to work there will only have to sign a piece of paper indicating things that no doctor could object to, while enabling a system that plenty of decent people would object to.
At the end of the segment, they noted that they reached out to GEO Group for comment, who in turn responded with a statement basically saying the same as the first half of your paragraph above.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 22 Jul 2019, 18:22

At the risk (more like ontological certainty these days) of being labeled a Nazi sympathizer, I'd say that on my list of complaints about the internment camps, prisons, jails, etc., the fact that a number of them have been contracted out to for-profit corporations is at or close to dead last. For-profits are going to blather on about high standards and moral principles and non-profits are going to blather on about high standards and moral principles and government organizations are going to blather on about high standards and moral principles and it doesn't mean shit to a tree. Attack the abuses, not the legal status or structure of the responsible institutions. Which, oh by the way, is still ultimately the state, not those who contract for or with the state.

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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Jennifer » 22 Jul 2019, 18:27

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 18:22
At the risk (more like ontological certainty these days) of being labeled a Nazi sympathizer, I'd say that on my list of complaints about the internment camps, prisons, jails, etc., the fact that a number of them have been contracted out to for-profit corporations is at or close to dead last.
Me too -- my complaint is WHAT we're doing, not which specific individuals are being paid to do it. But IMO, Taktix's NPR anecdote is a stunning illustration of just how fucking depraved things are getting in those camps.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Taktix® » 23 Jul 2019, 01:08

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 18:22
At the risk (more like ontological certainty these days) of being labeled a Nazi sympathizer, I'd say that on my list of complaints about the internment camps, prisons, jails, etc., the fact that a number of them have been contracted out to for-profit corporations is at or close to dead last. For-profits are going to blather on about high standards and moral principles and non-profits are going to blather on about high standards and moral principles and government organizations are going to blather on about high standards and moral principles and it doesn't mean shit to a tree. Attack the abuses, not the legal status or structure of the responsible institutions. Which, oh by the way, is still ultimately the state, not those who contract for or with the state.
I agree that the abuses by any party are clearly the greater evil here, my concern is that exposing and stopping and preventing those abuses will be more challenging with the greater use of private facilities, because they are both inherently and by design less accountable to the public for those abuses.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by thoreau » 23 Jul 2019, 01:33

Weren't there times when the ACLU sued the government on behalf of someone abused in the GWOT and the government would be able to avoid disclosing info because the acts in question were performed by contractors who aren't subject to the usual government oversight and accountability rules?

Yes, I'm sure that there are ways to scrutinize a contractor, and I'm sure that judges have ways to get info out of them. At the same time, it does seem that the security state is good at figuring out when "Sorry, this is a private business entitled to privacy" is the way to go and when "Sorry, the government needs to keep this secret in the name of national security" is the way to go.

If nothing else, it's twice as many chances to give an investigative reporter the run-around, twice as many layers of overhead, and twice as many chances for documents to be "lost." Because it's not like the government ever just lets go and puts everything under the control of an ostensibly more efficient contractor (unless they desperately need some deniability).
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 23 Jul 2019, 01:57

thoreau wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 01:33
Weren't there times when the ACLU sued the government on behalf of someone abused in the GWOT and the government would be able to avoid disclosing info because the acts in question were performed by contractors who aren't subject to the usual government oversight and accountability rules?

Yes, I'm sure that there are ways to scrutinize a contractor, and I'm sure that judges have ways to get info out of them. At the same time, it does seem that the security state is good at figuring out when "Sorry, this is a private business entitled to privacy" is the way to go and when "Sorry, the government needs to keep this secret in the name of national security" is the way to go.

If nothing else, it's twice as many chances to give an investigative reporter the run-around, twice as many layers of overhead, and twice as many chances for documents to be "lost." Because it's not like the government ever just lets go and puts everything under the control of an ostensibly more efficient contractor (unless they desperately need some deniability).
Um, yes and no. First, if anything, it's probably easier to wend one's way from agency through contracting office to contractor as far as layers and lines of authority goes than it is to snake through the labrynth of many departments and agencies, themselves. Any government contract will have both a contracting officer and a project or program manager in charge of general oversight as well as any internal controls, e.g., GAO auditors, inspectors general, etc. That said, contractors are not subject to FOIA in quite the same way government agencies are and the government is still the go-to source for that sort of thing.

Things start to get messy if, on the one hand, the complaint is about the performance of the contract, in which case, especially in State, DoD, the Intelligence agencies and DHS contractors may be entitled in some circumstances to qualified immunity insofar as they are agents of the sovereign and the sovereign cannot, of course, be sued except insofar as it deigns to be. That can limit legal liability but there would have been even fewer remedies against the government, itself, in many such cases.

If, on the other hand, the charge is about, say, how a contractor is treating employees, that's where issues of private control versus government oversight could lead to a determination that internal personnel policies (which are still contractually obligated to follow all sorts of labor, EEO, etc. requirements) are appropriately private and none of the government's business.

Very shorter version, it depends on whose ox is being gored by whom. Back in the day, the General Services Administration literally hired painters and custodians and plumbers and electricians and managed real property (it still does some of that) and ran cafeterias, etc., etc. and it was as horrendously inefficient as you can possible imagine. Not as wasteful as the big ticket government programs, of course, but you can make a pretty good argument that the government does nothing well or efficiently so it should be limited to doing only those things that literally cannot be contracted out. To be sure, that's trading one set of problems and weaknesses for another, but on balance I think contracting out is still preferable to government employees doing just about anything that isn't inherently governmental.

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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Taktix® » 23 Jul 2019, 02:38

Also, these companies specifically have a horrible pre-Trump track record for human rights in general.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Hugh Akston » 23 Jul 2019, 03:09

Guys I have some bad news for you about government accountability, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus...
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by thoreau » 23 Jul 2019, 07:20


D.A. Ridgely wrote:
thoreau wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 01:33
Weren't there times when the ACLU sued the government on behalf of someone abused in the GWOT and the government would be able to avoid disclosing info because the acts in question were performed by contractors who aren't subject to the usual government oversight and accountability rules?

Yes, I'm sure that there are ways to scrutinize a contractor, and I'm sure that judges have ways to get info out of them. At the same time, it does seem that the security state is good at figuring out when "Sorry, this is a private business entitled to privacy" is the way to go and when "Sorry, the government needs to keep this secret in the name of national security" is the way to go.

If nothing else, it's twice as many chances to give an investigative reporter the run-around, twice as many layers of overhead, and twice as many chances for documents to be "lost." Because it's not like the government ever just lets go and puts everything under the control of an ostensibly more efficient contractor (unless they desperately need some deniability).
Um, yes and no. First, if anything, it's probably easier to wend one's way from agency through contracting office to contractor as far as layers and lines of authority goes than it is to snake through the labrynth of many departments and agencies, themselves. Any government contract will have both a contracting officer and a project or program manager in charge of general oversight as well as any internal controls, e.g., GAO auditors, inspectors general, etc. That said, contractors are not subject to FOIA in quite the same way government agencies are and the government is still the go-to source for that sort of thing.

Things start to get messy if, on the one hand, the complaint is about the performance of the contract, in which case, especially in State, DoD, the Intelligence agencies and DHS contractors may be entitled in some circumstances to qualified immunity insofar as they are agents of the sovereign and the sovereign cannot, of course, be sued except insofar as it deigns to be. That can limit legal liability but there would have been even fewer remedies against the government, itself, in many such cases.

If, on the other hand, the charge is about, say, how a contractor is treating employees, that's where issues of private control versus government oversight could lead to a determination that internal personnel policies (which are still contractually obligated to follow all sorts of labor, EEO, etc. requirements) are appropriately private and none of the government's business.

Very shorter version, it depends on whose ox is being gored by whom. Back in the day, the General Services Administration literally hired painters and custodians and plumbers and electricians and managed real property (it still does some of that) and ran cafeterias, etc., etc. and it was as horrendously inefficient as you can possible imagine. Not as wasteful as the big ticket government programs, of course, but you can make a pretty good argument that the government does nothing well or efficiently so it should be limited to doing only those things that literally cannot be contracted out. To be sure, that's trading one set of problems and weaknesses for another, but on balance I think contracting out is still preferable to government employees doing just about anything that isn't inherently governmental.
First, I don't mind if the government contracts out cafeteria services. Nobody is captured at gunpoint and force fed cafeteria pizza.

Second, I have no doubt that if everyone is following all of the rules that they are supposed to follow then there will be reasonable mechanisms for obtaining information and checking on things. Then again, I have the crazy notion that if everyone is following all of the rules that they are supposed to follow then there won't be any detainee abuse and whatnot to investigate in the first place.

In a world where people don't follow all of the rules that they are supposed to follow, extra layers generally make things harder for plaintiffs and investigative reporters and whatnot to expose things that need exposing. In both the public and private sectors, compartmentalizing helps you keep secrets. "Look, we just transport the detainees. Someone else interrogates them." "Look, we provide the interrogation facilities, but someone else does the questioning." "Look, we provide interrogators but they are short term contractors and we no longer have their current contact info, and someone else controls the protocols that they operate under." "Look, we provide interrogation protocols, but recording the process and maintaining transcripts is a different contractor's job, and we aren't privy to that." "Look, we made the transcripts but we handed them over to the government and we weren't allowed to keep copies." "Look, we can neither confirm nor deny receiving transcripts of discussions that may include classified intelligence. As to detainee treatment, that is a different program." "Look, I am the government contract manager for this detainee program, and I wrote a contract that made it quite clear that such things are not allowed. If a contractor deviated from protocol when inspectors weren't around and then doctored the logs then that would be a contract violation, and it wouldn't be in any of the records provided to me. You need to talk to them about that." "We are contractors and not subject to FOIA."

The security state knows how to game the rules as well as anyone, and we'll get the situation you describe in your post, where something roughly akin to sovereign immunity applies but FOIA doesn't, far more often than we'll get the opposite. That's surely a 100% legal arrangement, but it's also absolutely terrible, and so we should want the democratic elements of the state to choose to operate differently than that. But we should be utterly unsurprised when we get exactly that.

As to what is "inherently governmental", the existence of mercenaries, private prisons, rental cops, private arbitration and mediation services, etc. demonstrates that literally anything done in a government building can be done by a person with a private sector job title and letterhead. The question is whether the ensuing tangle of relationships, distinct rule sets, etc. makes the thing easier or harder to control. The security state is costly and dangerous no matter what type of letterhead it uses. If it also gets to pick and choose which set of rules it will pretend to be subject to in which set of cases, that makes it harder, not easier, for plaintiffs' attorneys, investigative journalists, and (when they grow a pair) legislative oversight committees to push back as part of a vital process of tension and scrutiny.



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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by JasonL » 23 Jul 2019, 10:33

I actually lol when people talk about blah blah is better under an accountable government institution. Like - wtf are you talking about / from which galaxy did you arrive only yesterday?

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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Taktix® » 23 Jul 2019, 15:49

Hugh Akston wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 03:09
Guys I have some bad news for you about government accountability, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus...
JasonL wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 10:33
I actually lol when people talk about blah blah is better under an accountable government institution. Like - wtf are you talking about / from which galaxy did you arrive only yesterday?
Don't get me wrong, I know that government is just as bad and often worse than private as far as accountability is concerned, in most cases.

But philosophy aside, we know from the track record over the last few decades that in the specific case of correctional facilities, private prisons are more dangerous and abusive and, yes, less accountable than government correctional facilities.

Perhaps this is due to the unique force-inherent space they occupy (my guess), or maybe the blurred line between consumer and product, but we know what we can expect from the private prison industry, and it's not good. That's why it was on the way out before Trump came along with a pocketful of GEO Group cash, and why banks like BOA are pulling out of the private prison industry...
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by JasonL » 23 Jul 2019, 15:56

I don't agree broadly that private prisons are the right way to go, but I agree with Eric in some other thread when he said that focus on such is a way to sugar coat the grossness of the formal system and I'd rather just talk about the formal system with its broader impact.

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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by lunchstealer » 23 Jul 2019, 16:10

JasonL wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 10:33
I actually lol when people talk about blah blah is better under an accountable government institution. Like - wtf are you talking about / from which galaxy did you arrive only yesterday?
Less awful accountability? In public prisons the only lobbying force trying to stop accountability are the guard unions. For private prisons it adds a a second layer of profit motive*. So the question is whether the judiciary (or I guess legislatures/executives) is actually MORE likely to hold a private prison accountable than a public one. Seems like they'd give more-or-less the same passes/poor oversight to private prisons plus legislators will be getting more kickbacks... er I mean free speech donations**... from the GEO Group or whoever.

*I don't know why socialists don't realize that wages are profits for individuals selling their labor, and that labor is just as motivated to maximize their own profits in a reward/effort ratio as corporations are.

**I reject the left's assertion that Citizens United means that donations are speech in favor of the recognition that no it was content of Hillary The Movie that crossed the McCain-Feingold line so it's not the money that's the speech it's the speech that's the speech, so I don't entirely buy the idea that donations are expression, themselves.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Hugh Akston » 23 Jul 2019, 16:37

JasonL wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 15:56
I don't agree broadly that private prisons are the right way to go, but I agree with Eric in some other thread when he said that focus on such is a way to sugar coat the grossness of the formal system and I'd rather just talk about the formal system with its broader impact.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Jennifer » 23 Jul 2019, 16:54

Sudden thought -- though I can't find the precise article right now -- one of the many many news stories about the horrors in our concentration camps included at lest one mention of how children were denied the right to see a given pediatrician precisely because "the plaintiffs chose the doctor." If the camps have their own "ideologically sound" docs on staff, that gives them another excuse to keep away outsiders who might tell tales CBP and ICE doesn't want people to hear.
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Painboy » 23 Jul 2019, 19:03

JasonL wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 15:56
I don't agree broadly that private prisons are the right way to go, but I agree with Eric in some other thread when he said that focus on such is a way to sugar coat the grossness of the formal system and I'd rather just talk about the formal system with its broader impact.
I'll go so far as to say I think most of the problem with private contractors is that they're likely just more efficient at doing things, much as private enterprise is generally more efficient than government institutions. Which means if you have a fucked up government policy they are going to be much better and more motivated at implementing that fucked up policy because that's the source of their income. Contrast that with a secure government agency that is spending other people's money where few if anybody is going to fired if they don't make their numbers.

Like dealing with a genie. It will give exactly what you ask for, good and hard.

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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Eric the .5b » 23 Jul 2019, 19:57

I don't see a reasonable equation between immigrant/asylum-seeker detention and the prison system. They're different operations, and the only common ground is that they put people in cages. The overwhelmingly public nature of the prison system has no bearing on the public/private nature of the camps and garages and everywhere else they're stuffing these people who've been convicted of no crimes. If Trump and company are farming this out to private companies in order to deflect institutional responses to this abuse, that's a problem.

Now, what portion of the people being detained are in private facilities? Is this a significant thing, or is this just a side-issue Blues are seizing on because the concentration camps somehow don't offer enough sizzle?
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Re: If We Build It, They'll Probably Still Come

Post by Taktix® » 23 Jul 2019, 22:13

71% are in private facilities, as of November 2017. Which appears to be the most recent data since ICE hasn't submitted any new numbers since.

So unless they built a bunch of new jails over the last 18 months, I'd imagine it's close to 71% or higher...

ETA: Also, why bring up "the Blues"? Putting the justice back in the criminal justice system is everybody's issue...
"Guilty as charged. Go ahead and ban me from the mall." - Ellie

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