The case could affect up to 60,000 immigrants who were held over the course of a decade. A federal judge ruled on Feb. 27 that the plaintiffs could move forward with a class-action lawsuit against GEO Group, which operates dozens of private prisons and detention centers across the country.
The company, which contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate the 1,500-bed center in Aurora, says it has done nothing wrong, noting in a court filing that such programs are “fully authorized by the federal government — and have been for decades.”
In his decision, U.S. District Judge John Kane certified two classes of plaintiffs.
One class involves roughly 2,000 people who participated in the “voluntary” work program.
The other class involves up to 60,000 immigrants who plaintiffs’ attorneys say were coerced to mop floors, clean windows, wipe down mattresses and clean up dining areas under the threat of solitary confinement, according to court filings.
By relying on the free work of the detainees, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued, GEO maintains its entire facility with just one janitor on the payroll. They claim the company violated the forced labor provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The class-action lawsuit could have significant implications for the company, which stands to lose more now than if the lawsuit had moved forward with just nine plaintiffs. The original complaint sought more than $5 million in damages.
Read the whole story in the LA Times