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Articles by Spencer Woodman

ICE Detainee Sent to Solitary Confinement for Encouraging Protest of “Voluntary” Low-Wage Labor

by Spencer Woodman, reprinted with permission from The Intercept

In June, officials at a privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in rural Georgia sentenced an immigrant detainee to a month in solitary confinement to punish him for encouraging fellow detainees to stop working in protest of low wages at the facility. Three days after the detainee shouted “no work, no pay” in a facility kitchen, according to ICE records, “the detainee was found guilty of encouraging others to participate in a work stoppage and was sentenced to 30 days of disciplinary segregation.”

Immigrants confined in ICE facilities often work for only $1 per day, but the immigration agency’s guidelines state that all such work must be voluntary. Earlier this year, a federal judge cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit originally brought by nine ICE detainees alleging that ICE contractor the GEO Group had profited off forced labor in violation of federal anti-slavery laws.

In the case of the Georgia facility, ICE’s records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request simply list “work stoppage” as the reason for using solitary confinement to punish the immigrant detainee, who is originally from Haiti.

In response to questions from ...

No-show Cops and Dysfunctional Courts Keep Cook County Jail Prisoners Waiting Years for a Trial

by Spencer Woodman, Chicago Reader

June 25, 2012, was a terrible day for Jermaine Robinson. Overall, life was good – the 21-year-old Washington Park resident had been studying music management at Columbia College and was a few weeks into a job working as a janitor at a nearby Boys & Girls Club. But his 13-year-old neighbor had been killed by random gunfire the previous day, and Robinson spent the evening at an emotional memorial service.

After the service ended around midnight, Robinson repaired to his girlfriend’s house on Rhodes Avenue to hang out with friends and to see his one-year-old daughter, he says. But just after midnight, he says, several Chicago police officers rammed down the side door of the house and burst into the living room.

Police would later say that they had spotted Robinson dashing from the front porch into the house holding a revolver. According to police reports, the officers found a handgun in the house, which they claimed belonged to Robinson. They arrested him and two other young men. At the precinct, in a cinderblock interrogation room, Robinson says he told police he was only visiting the home and knew nothing about the gun.

But by the time ...


 

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