Detained immigrants suing a private prison company over forced labor move forward with groundbreaking class action.
Current and former detainees, including illegal immigrants, are suing the country’s second largest private prison company, alleging the for-profit institution forced them to work for extremely low wages or nothing at all.
A federal judge ruled Monday that inmates at a detention center in Colorado can participate in a class-action lawsuit against the private corrections company, GEO group. The prison complex holds illegal immigrants slated for deportation.
“This is the first lawsuit of its kind in the history of the United States,” Andrew Free, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys told The Daily Beast. “This is the first time that a private prison company has ever been accused of forced labor, and this is the first time that a judge has ever found that the claims can go forward under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the bans in federal law on forced labor.”
Judge John Kane assigned the attorneys to legally represent all detainees held at the Aurora, Colo. center since Oct. 22, 2004, which could equal nearly 60,000 people, according to The Daily Beast.