private prisons

Sandor Csudai / Creative Commons


Let’s Talk New Mexico 5/27 8am: Asylum seekers who arrive in the U.S. are often fleeing violence at the hands of police or gangs in their home countries. However, once they arrive in our country, they continue to face the threat of violence, including while in detention. A lawsuit recently filed against a private detention center here in New Mexico claims guards sprayed asylum seekers with a chemical agent to stop a peaceful hunger strike protesting living conditions in the facility. International law says states must protect asylum seekers and refugees, not harm them. On this week’s Let’s Talk New Mexico, we will  be talking about this lawsuit against CoreCivic in Torrance County, and what these private detention centers mean for New Mexico.

MivPiv via CC / IStock

People who are incarcerated faced a lack of resources when it came to access to health care and PPE during the pandemic. A couple of bills before lawmakers in New Mexico during the last legislative session could have addressed those problems, but prison reform has been placed on the back-burner for another year. KUNM’s Taylor Velazquez spoke with Lalita Moskowitz from the ACLU of New Mexico about the dangerous conditions inside private prisons.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

An effort to get public money out of private ICE detention in New Mexico saw a partial victory this week. A coalition of educators and immigrants rights advocates have been urging the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board to drop investments in CoreCivic and GEO Group, corporations that own or manage three-quarters of migrant detention facilities in the U.S and are accused of a range of civil and human rights abuses. Between the two, they also imprison hundreds of state and federal inmates in four New Mexico counties.

In a retirement board meeting Friday, members pushed off a decision to divest until later this fall. But the stock market decided for them in one case: CoreCivic is being dropped from the fund’s portfolio this week due to poor financial returns. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Calls for a major New Mexico retirement fund to drop investments in companies that operate private prisons and ICE detention may finally be answered this week. After over a year of pressure from a growing coalition of teachers and advocates, the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board could vote this Friday on a proposal to divest from GEO Group and Core Civic.

YNMG & COVID: The Balls That Got Dropped

Jun 24, 2020
Pixelmaniac Pictures via Wikimedia Commons CC


We come back to life’s essentials like housing and education in episode 80, and the systemic problems that can easily slip past us if we’re not vigilant. As we continue to endure, it's easy to drop the ball on issues New Mexico has been battling for years. Today we hear from journalists from around the state on how the pandemic is affecting schools and teachers, the affordability of housing, and whether the corrections system is fulfilling its human rights obligations. 

Reese Brown via CC

In episode 44, we talk about CDC data and state data showing that the virus is harming, disproportionately, brown and black people around the U.S.—and here at home. We hear from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez about the bureaucratic hurdles to accessing billions of dollars allotted to tribes in the relief package, and why that money hasn't reached the ground yet, despite the dire public health emergency unfolding for tribes.

Ed Williams / KUNM

Nationally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 42,000 people in custody on average on any given day last year. People leaving ICE detention often say conditions were bad, and they were abused or didn’t get enough to eat. Some New Mexico lawmakers are carrying a bill that might create a window into ICE facilities here.