Sprucing Up For Company
It turns out government facilities operate on the same principle. From today's NY Times:
Responding to complaints about conditions at the nation’s main family detention center for illegal immigrants, officials threw open the gates on Friday for a first news media tour.
They portrayed the privately run converted prison, open since May, as a model facility “primarily focused on the safety of the children.”
Once all the barbed wire comes down, Gary Mead, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, said, “it’s going to look more like a community college with a very high chain-link fence.”
Among other things, critics have complained about the prisonlike conditions, the food and the limited amount of schooling and recreation provided for children. [Emphasis added]
And how did the Immigration folks prepare for the arrival of the press?
Inside the fluorescent-lighted corridors, plastic plants had been hurriedly installed and some areas repainted, lawyers for some detainees said, and officials acknowledged that pizza was on the lunch menu for the first time. The detainees could not be interviewed. [Emphasis added]
Plastic plants, a coat of paint, and pizza: that's sure to impress the skeptical visitors, especially if they can't talk to the detainees. The hosts of this tour really had a sense about what their guests (the ones who would be able to leave after the tour) wanted to see. By the way, the hosts were not actually the government officials in charge of the program. The real hosts are part of a company that runs detention centers for the government.
The facility, the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center, is operated for the government by the Corrections Corporation of America, under a $2.8-million-a-month contract with Williamson County. It is named for a founder of the company, which runs 64 facilities in 19 states. [Emphasis added]
The name just adds a nice warm touch, don't you think? Surely a place with such a nice name can't be considered a prison. The doors to the rooms (not cells, mind you) are not locked, although a laser light system does send an alert whenever someone leaves the room, and the detainees don't have to wear prison garb, but rather are provided with nice, colorful outfits more akin to the ever-popular 'scrubs.' Furthermore, the conditions are ideal for the families held there.
Lawyers said detainees were rushed through meals in 15 or 20 minutes. Mr. Mead acknowledged “they can’t linger,” but said it was because of classes or other activities.
Showing off a classroom with computers, Jean Bellinger, assistant administrator for programs, said children were divided into three age groups comparable to elementary, middle and high school for four hours’ a day of instruction plus an hour’s recreation and lunch. But she acknowledged that for several months a staff shortage limited class time to an hour a day. [Emphasis added]
What a lovely place. It's clear that we shouldn't worry about the conditions those pesky illegal immigrants are forced to endure. They should consider themselves lucky for such largesse.