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Denver City Councilwoman calls out contract with company known for detaining immigrants

GEO runs Aurora ICE facility, up for $3.9 million contract
Posted: 5:23 PM, Aug 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-06 11:37:43-04
Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca.PNG

DENVER -- Less than a month into her new job, Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca is already making waves.

"It's crazy that informing the public is making waves," she said.

At the center is a $3.89 million-dollar contract with a company known as Community Education Centers, Inc. to provide halfway houses to the city through its Division of Community Corrections.

"It's really a subsidiary of a corporation that we're hearing a lot about called GEO," explained CdeBaca. "The entity that is detaining immigrants in inhumane ways."

GEO is the same company that runs the Aurora ICE facility. The same facility where political activists and Colorado's democratic congressional leaders have toured to demand change to 'for-profit' detention centers like GEO.

They said that there were 48 women housed in one dorm, which they said was about half the size of a gymnasium, inside the women’s unit. Several women told the Democrats it had taken between one and three weeks to get aspirin recently to treat aches and menstrual cramps.

After learning of the contract, CdeBaca pulled it off the consent agenda and has called for a public debate Monday.

"I was unaware Community Corrections was GEO," she said. "We don't typically pull out contracts for public comment and that's something that I've been requesting."

Councilwoman at-large Debbie Ortega said she supports the conversation but wants to make sure the city has a solid plan for what happens next if the contract for halfway houses is not approved.

"I think it's a valid public policy issue to be raising," said Ortega. "If our efforts are to not renew contracts with companies that operate border detention facilities or ICE detention facilities, regardless of where they're located, because we think it's an important policy to address, we also have to make sure we have a place for these people to go."

A public hearing on the contract will be held during city council's monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

"I personally feel very uncomfortable awarding — rewarding — a company that is violating human rights," said CdeBaca.

“The GEO Group takes great pride in our 30 years of services provided to the Denver community, yet the Denver City Council’s politicization of these services is undermining the important work we provide to this vulnerable population," the company said in a statement to Denver7. “Like all Americans, we are concerned about the unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our nation’s Southern border. We can’t solve the immigration crisis from our facilities, and yet our care is being challenged and mischaracterized by political factors outside of our control."

Read GEO Group's full statement below:

“The GEO Group takes great pride in our 30 years of services provided to the Denver community, yet the Denver City Council’s politicization of these services is undermining the important work we provide to this vulnerable population. Specifically, we provide evidence-based treatment and services that are designed to address – and proven to reduce – recidivism. We also have a specialized trauma-informed and gender-responsive women’s program that targets the unique issues women face. Taking away any of these services is both reckless and catastrophic to these families and their communities.

“Like all Americans, we are concerned about the unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our nation’s Southern border. We can’t solve the immigration crisis from our facilities, and yet our care is being challenged and mischaracterized by political factors outside of our control. The fact is, The GEO Group and our employees are committed to protecting those entering each of our facilities and ensuring they are provided high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe, secure, and humane environments, and are treated with compassion, dignity and respect.”

On Monday night, the council voted to not renew the contracts with GEO Group and CoreCivic.