Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

GEO To Expand ICE Facility

As the private prison industry jumps on the political hot button of immigration we will see a rise in the construction of these facilities across the country. The fact that it's in the warehouse district is certainly telling...

The Denver Post - A private company operating the Colorado immigration detention center in Aurora plans to sink $72 million into an expansion that will more than triple the size of the facility based on Senate proposals to expand border enforcement and bed space for illegal-immigrant detainees.

The expansion would turn the 400-bed facility into a 1,500-bed center, making it second in size only to the 2,000-bed Raymondville, Texas, site, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Aurora site is in a warehouse area near East 30th Avenue and Peoria Street.

The plan by Florida-based GEO Group, which owns and operates the facility, has raised concerns among national and local immigrant- and civil-rights groups and the neighborhood associations in the area.

The expansion is expected to be complete in late 2009. A company spokesman did not return numerous calls, but GEO chairman and chief executive George Zoley detailed the plan recently in a call with analysts.

GEO estimates the 1,100 new beds will raise an additional $30 million in annual revenue, Zoley said during the call.

Opponents of the plan say their concerns are based partly on the lack of access to internal audits of the facility and recent government reviews showing inadequacies.

"One of the major issues is that GEO has a really spotty record in running these sorts of facilities," said Chandra Russo, a community organizer for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "Our concern with a private corporation running a prison is that its profits depend on more prisoners. What is the benefit for the community?"

Neighbors are also worried about real estate values and environmental impact.

ICE denies any connection with the expansion the private company is planning with its own money, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok.

Currently, the ICE contract for the Aurora facility is for 400 beds, but the deal is up for review each year for the next four years.

The Denver Post

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