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Letter to the Editor: No jail time

To the editor:

Response to TDC Op Ed regarding NORCOR of Aug. 6. Reading the headline “Jail protests may do long term harm” stimulated me to create a somewhat different wording: “Jail sentences do long term harm to ICE detainees who have committed no criminal offense.” Jail sentences place ICE detainees indefinitely with the general prison population.

This may subject them to punitive measures while behind bars such as under feeding, bad quality of food, difficulty communicating with family and legal counsel and little knowledge of why and how long they will be held without charge.

Problems of profitability in correctional institutions public or private should not be solved by drumming up business in the legally gray area of immigration detentions.

It is common knowledge that the rate of incarceration in the country went way up when the profit incentive came into the picture. Because NORCOR is accepting detainees from the private detention center run by GEO in Tacoma, beds are being added and contracts signed to add ICE detainees.

Establishing ICE inmates as a profit center serves to make it increasingly difficult to reduce or end the relationship with ICE, an outcome that goes against Oregon’s commitment to sanctuary statehood.

As a resident of The Dalles, it was only a few months ago that I found out about the ICE profit source for the prison. The clear message behind the ICE resistance movement is to oppose incarcerations and sweeps in our county and the region and the state. It is an institutional challenge not a personal vendetta against the president.

The TDC OP Ed piece also referred to those of us who have gone way out of our comfort zones to join the rallies at NORCOR as people who need to vote for change, not rally and demonstrate. To this I say if taken seriously, such an approach would nullify the entire civil rights movement. Lawful activism is a fundamental constitutional right protected both in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

On a positive note, a group of citizens including clergy and legal advisors have communicated and dialogued with Director Brandenburg and his board in a civil manner, agreeing that NORCOR is in a good position to offer educational, psychological, job skills and other rehabilitative advantages to its convicted inmates, a good practice in our 40-year sanctuary state.

Joel Kabakov

The Dalles


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