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A first-hand view of the court battle against private prison company GEO Group

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Jacqueline Stevens, founding director of the Deportation Research Clinic at the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University, was in Tacoma, Washington, in recent weeks observing the trial of the operator of nearby Northwest ICE Processing Center. Stevens’ research and legal analysis catalyzed the litigation against the GEO Group and other private prison operators paying $1 a day for work performed by those in custody under immigration laws.

Professor Stevens is available to speak with media to provide a first-hand account of the precedent-setting trial and jury deliberations and what the ruling means for the future of for-profit detention centers and the immigrant detainees caught in that controversial system. She can be reached at

The U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan yesterday affirmed the jury finding that the for-profit prison company GEO Group violated the Washington state minimum wage act and owes former detainees more than $17 million. Judge Bryan also ordered the company pay approximately $6 million to the State of Washington for unjust enrichment and end the detainee work program.

Quote from Professor Stevens
“Brave plaintiffs and resourceful attorneys have forced GEO to heel to the rule of law. GEO's top officials insisted forms indicating work shifts for food service, janitorial duties, laundry and painting were 'activities' GEO provided to improve 'detainee morale,' not work. The judge and jury found GEO's claims preposterous. The trial also revealed previously secret ledgers showing GEO profits at the facility approaching 20% of revenues and raised more questions about lobbyists funded by tax-payer money influencing our deportation policies."