U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. issued the following statement today regarding a proposed immigrant detention center in Crete.
"I strongly oppose the immigrant prison proposed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for Crete. And I am not alone. Joining me in opposition to the proposed prison are law enforcement leaders, organized labor, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and scores of community organizations and religious groups. In fact, the only persons that have expressed support of the prison are the high-paid lobbyists for the Correction Corporation of America (CCA), a private company that's hoping to build and operate the facility for profit.
"A deadly prison riot last weekend in a Mississippi prison -- owned and operated by CCA -- should end the debate once and for all. One guard was killed in the riot and at least 20 others were injured. More than 300 inmates ran wild, some using sticks and homemade knives, as police had to be called in from neighboring communities to assist prison staff to restore peace.
"Illinois doesn't need CCA. That's why I support Senate Bill 1064 in the state legislature to ban private detention centers in Illinois," Jackson said.
This latest crisis is nothing new for CCA. In 2010, CCA was forced to settle a lawsuit because it was running a "gladiator school" in an Idaho prison, where guards forced inmates to fight one another as they watched. A few years ago a riot and fire broke out at another Mississippi prison. Chemical grenades were used at a CCA prison in Tennessee. A total of 24 immigrant detainees have died in CCA custody over the years.
"Riots. Fires. Lawsuits. Death. I join with my constituents who oppose CCA. My constituents don't want the lower property values, increased tax burden, and public safety concerns that come with new prison construction. I have received 1,100 signed petitions from Crete residents who oppose this. If the detention center were built, more than 1 in 10 Crete residents would be a detainee," Jackson said.
"It is important to set the record straight about jobs, too. ICE's plan is to open this new detention center, so that they can close 3 other detention centers in other counties, resulting in job losses there. The new center also replaces union jobs with private contractors.
"But above all else, the Mississippi riots this past weekend -- in a CCA detention center similar to the one proposed in Crete -- should end the debate on this issue. We don't need that kind of crisis in Illinois. Please join me in supporting SB 1064," Jackson said.