ACLU reminds Kansans why private prison closed as attempts to reopen begin

FILE(Action News 5)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 11:32 AM CDT
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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (WIBW) - As a private prison attempts to reopen as an ICE detention facility in Leavenworth, the ACLU is reminding commissioners why the facility was closed in the first place.

The ACLU of Kansas says that as private prison corporation CoreCivic attempts to reopen its detention center in Leavenworth, it has urged the County Commission to remember why the U.S. Marshals Service ended its contract with the facility in 2021.

“We are hopeful that the Commission does not have as short of a memory as CoreCivic seems to hope it does,” said Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas. “The people who suffered through the facility’s conditions of extreme violence, whether as staff or as residents, have definitely not forgotten—and neither have the families and community that witnessed it all.”

In 2021, the ACLU said it was an affiliate of the public defenders’ offices in four states which signed a letter to urge the White House to ensure the facility was shut down by the end of that year - the same time CoreCivic’s contract ended.

“As described in our letter, CoreCivic is plainly unable to run a facility that meets even the bare minimum standards afforded by our Constitution,” said Sharon Brett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas. “CoreCivic demonstrated a consistent and deliberate indifference to mitigating the dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the Leavenworth facility, as it has elsewhere in the country. The Leavenworth Government should not invite CoreCivic back to once again abuse individuals’ human and civil rights. The constitutional imperatives that CoreCivic is incapable of following remain, and we urge the Commission to reject their bid to get back in business in Kansas.”

Previously, the Department of Homeland Security said it would not pursue a contract with CoreCivic for a contract to become a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. However, Commissioners announced during their Sept. 6 meeting that the company has reached out to them several times in an effort to reopen the facility.

The ACLU said it has also urged ICE to not engage with CoreCivic for any further plans in Leavenworth.