In 2010 ICE began looking for a law enforcement agency that would build and run a detention center in the Chicago area. They put out a solicitation called a “Statement of Objectives”. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison corporation in the US, and the village of Crete IL formed a partnership. CCA wrote a proposal to ICE, entitled White Paper, which was approved by the Village trustees. Based on this proposal, ICE selected ICE then selected Crete as the winner of the solicitation in the summer of 2011. Click here for this document.
The three-way partnership works like this: ICE is drafting a contract called an Intergovernmental Service Agreement with the village of Crete for a 700 bed mixed (medium and maximum) security detention center. The Village of Crete is subcontracting CCA to actually build and maintain the prison. Crete is the middle link in the chain. The village trustees have already signed on to the partnership with CCA. But the contract with ICE has not yet been signed – the prison project can still be stopped very simply by the mayor of Crete or the village trustees.
This is currently farmland in the process of being sold to CCA. It is located on the south end of Hartman Drive , off Burville Road. See map here.
Local Campaign: Concerned Citizens of Crete
For the past several months, a group called the Concerned Citizens of Crete have been working to fight the Detention center. They have been tracking official documents and identified the plot of land; researched CCA’s track record; contacted people fighting detention centers in other parts of the country; organized several Town Hall meetings and mass mailings in Crete; attended Village meetings, started petitions and are calling local and state representatives, organizing through religious leaders. It is a broad group, only some of which are concerned the social justice issues. They have been meeting with people from The Interfaith Coalition
The Concerned Citizens of Crete are listing the following reasons for their campaign:
Residents are concerned about the effect on their property values, their physical security, infrastructure costs, effect on area businesses, effect on the community’s image, effect on the tax base, what will happen with the detention center once ICE cancels the contract, effect on nearby communities, how their faith can or can not coexist with a detention center, human rights issues and a whole host of other concerns.
Additionally, in public meetings, the campaign has addressed: fears that detainees might escape and jeopardize town safety; fear that in the case of emergency the village does not have the police force necessary to respond and control the situation; fears that the Detention Center would change the quality of life for residents.
Several organizers, along with other residents and church leaders, have pushed the issue of human rights through the lens of compassion and Christian values. Politically, the organizing group is split, with some organizers publicly expressing doubts about collaborating with people of color from outside Crete, while others have experience working in anti-prison campaigns and have publicly reached out for support at Chicago anti-prison events, in speeches calling the PIC – and immigrant detention as part of it — racist institutions. (Cetta Smart, Anthony Grayson and Judith Wood, all core organizers of the Crete campaign, have given statements to the press in opposition to immigration policy and in opposition to the detention of immigrants).
The group is unified around the demand to stop the detention center as a way of protecting the lifestyle and standards of living of residents in Crete.
Politicians on the scene
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr is the new representative for this district. He is making plans for a Town hall meeting with ICE in Crete in late March, sometime after the primary elections on March 20. based on this, we do not *think* that the contract with ICE will be signed before this.