So far no charges have been filed against Howard Industries, where a spokesman declined to comment. Alvarez-Montgomery says ICE will gather evidence about the company’s practices based on interviews with immigrant detainees, and says that “if there is evidence against supervisors, owners, or the company in general, the information will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Jacksonville for consideration. It’s up to them at that point if they will pursue criminal charges against the employer.”
The GEO Group is an international corporation that operates prisons around the country and is frequently in the news for its abuse of prisoners in its care resulting in many preventable deaths. Its operations in Texas have been sharply criticized over poor conditions and the treatment of some of its prisoners.
The Jena detention facility was formerly a juvenile prison. It was designed to be a model corrections center, but ended up being shut down after conditions got so bad that the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in 2000 against the management—GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut)—for abuse and violence. The investigation found that the mostly white guards used "cruel and humiliating punishments" and "routinely used excessive force" on the mostly Black youth inmates. A judge in the case said, "The way this facility operates or has operated in the recent past is that young people are treated as if they walk on all fours. These young people deserve to be treated like human beings, not animals.''