Prison Industry Goes Global. (Security)

By Lemke, Tim | Insight on the News, April 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

Prison Industry Goes Global. (Security)


Lemke, Tim, Insight on the News


More than 1,000 illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia and other nations are detained in the blistering desert of Australia's Outback. Across the ocean, South African prisoners sleep in newly built cells. Thousands of miles away in Yorkshire, England, 16-year-old violent offenders ,peer out of small cell windows overlooking the Cheswald River. All have one thing in common: They are watched over by guards of a U.S. company.

Wackenhut Corrections Corp., a Palm Springs, Fla., company, operates 55 prisons, immigration detention centers, juvenile facilities and psychiatric hospitals, with a significant chunk of its business coming from overseas. In the United States, the company operates 36 facilities, including detention centers for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Queens, N.Y., and Aurora, Colo., and has plans to operate a 1,000-bed prison in Charlotte County, Va., beginning in the fall.

Outside the United States, the company runs 19 facilities, including a maximum-security prison in South Africa and five immigration detention facilities in Australia designed to accommodate the influx of illegal immigrants. In fact, Wackenhut's Australian subsidiary, Australasian Correctional Management, operates 10 facilities there under exclusive contracts or licensing agreements with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), the Australian immigration agency. The company has exclusive rights to operate three more immigration facilities that are being built as contingencies.

Perhaps most notable of the Wackenhut facilities is the Woomera Immigration and Processing Centre, located in the desert 300 miles from the South Australia capital, Adelaide. It is Australia's largest detention center for illegal immigrants, with 1,200 detainees. (In all, more than 2,700 people from 84 nations are detained in Australia.) The Woomera facility has expanded rapidly since it opened in 1999 as immigrants from oppressive Middle Eastern nations or war-torn countries fled to Australia, most often by boat. …

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