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RI ACLU Criticizes Central Falls’ Proposal to Sell Wyatt Detention Center

Posted: February 19, 2009|Category: Criminal Justice

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The RI ACLU has sent a letter to Mayor Charles Moreau of Central Falls, expressing concern about the City’s response to the death of Hiu Lui Ng after mistreatment by prison employees at the Wyatt Detention Facility last August.  The letter contrasts city officials’ general silence surrounding Ng’s death with the City’s outcry at the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) decision to remove immigration detainees from Wyatt, and officials’ recent efforts to solicit a private buyer for the prison.  “The juxtaposition of these responses and the sense of priorities they highlight are extremely disturbing,” states the letter.  Even after Ng’s death, the letter notes, the City entrusted Wyatt to detain teenage curfew violators. 

One of the potential buyers that the City has been soliciting is the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a for-profit corporation.  The ACLU letter summarizes a decade of documented questionable practices at facilities run by CCA, including overcrowding, the use of excessive force, negligence and lack of adequate medical care.

“Rather than focusing on alternatives to incarceration or emphasizing the humane and dignified treatment of people, the issue has become one of making money off the suffering of others—the detention of people who often do not need to be detained,” the letter states.  The RI ACLU urged the City to consider the consequences of bringing in a for-profit prison corporation like CCA with little oversight, and the dangers of cutting corners when there is little regard for anything but the bottom line.

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