Press release: Boston March Against Cages / Marcha Contra las Jaulas


Boston March Against Cages / Marcha Contra las Jaulas Demands the American Correctional Association Stop Accrediting Abusive Prisons and Migrant Camps


August 4, 2019
Contact: (617) 315-4299,

BOSTON, MA- On Sunday, approximately 500 people shut down Boylston Street in a march to condemn the American Correctional Association (ACA) for supporting mass incarceration and immigrant detention.The ACA, a professional organization for the prison and detention industries, is in Boston August 1st-6th for its annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center. “We’re out here because we believe no one should profit off of caging human beings. We want an end to incarceration, whether it’s at the border or in our backyard,” says Mike Cox, an organizer with Black and Pink. The event was organized by a coalition of prison abolition groups and immigration justice groups, including Deeper Than WaterBlack and PinkBoston, Black Lives Matter Boston, and Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network.

The group carried signs that read “No Cages, No Camps” and “No Profits from Prisons” and chanted “Free the prisoners free them all, brick by brick, wall by wall.” When they reached the Convention Center, the group played recordings and read testimony of prisoners in Massachusetts prisons and ICE facilities. “I’ve suffered medical neglect and humiliations that have had serious consequences to my health,” said Jose Marco Tapete Gonzalez, who is currently detained at GEO group’s Adelanto Detention Facility. “I am sad and I feel very bad, but I’m not giving up. On the contrary, I’ll use this opportunity to expose the negligent treatment, horrible conditions and humiliations that we have to endure in ICE jails.” On Thursday, the ACA will host an awards banquet for the Senior Vice President of GEO Group, which runs the majority of detention facilities at the border and has earned $450 million in ICE contracts in the past two years. “It’s terrible, the psychological and emotional torture that’s happening at the detention facilities. It will take the effort of good people in this country to change the laws,” said woman seeking asylum and recently processed through the port of entry at Nogales, Arizona.

In their speeches, the protesters demanded that the ACA 1) shut down all prisons and detention facilities, 2) stop accrediting or rescind accreditation of facilities with documented human rights violations, and 3) make the credentialing process public. The ACA is the largest accreditor of for-profit prisons and immigration detention facilities in the US, and its accreditation process has recently come under national scrutiny for being little more than a rubber stamp. ACA-accredited facilities have been found guilty of widespread human rights abuses, including the recently re-accredited NCCI-Gardner, where prisoners have raised concerns that the water runs brown. “We can and we must build a world without cages,” said Elizabeth Rucker, an organizer with Deeper Than Water.

Around 500 people shut down Boylston Street in front of the Hynes Convention Center to protest the ACA Banner that says "BREAK THE CAGES... WE WILL FREE THEM ALL"


This August 1-6th, the American Correctional Association will descend on the city of Boston for their annual Congress of Correction. The ACA annual conference is a massive gathering with thousands of participants from correctional officers to prison profiteers.

This year, the ACA is presenting an award to none other than J. David Donahue, the Sr. Vice President of GEO Group. In addition to being one of the largest private prison companies on the planet, is currently leading the charge to expand the immigrant detention and separation apparatus as much as possible. As part of GEO Group, Donahue is also focused on exporting the American neoliberal prison system to the rest of the world. Last year, in response to increased ICE raids and detentions, Donahue and his staff reported that they were “very pleased” with the exponential rise in prisoners and detainees seen in the wake of the Trump administration. 

Also in attendance will be corporations from all over the world from weapons manufacturers to groups like JPay, whose tablet interfaces are currently being pushed to replace in-person visits, extracting even more money from families and destroying the bonds that hold people together. This isn’t an aberration, this is their business plan.

In a time when all cages are overflowing with our loved ones, we owe it to ourselves and our communities to say: #NOMORECAGES


There will be events planned throughout the week that the ACA is occupying our city. For now, please help turn up as many people as possible to march on the conference itself on August 4th. 


Phone zap, call now!


The American Correctional Association (ACA) is flooding Boston with ICE agents, jailers, and detention center profiteers August 1-6! The ACA is an organization that accredits prisons that abuse transgender people, detain immigrants in concentration camps, separate families, and profit off of caging people. This year, they are even giving an award to GEO Group, the company that runs most of the immigration detention facilities in the US and regularly makes millions in profits from contracts with ICE.Learn more about them here:

Boston Marriott Copley Place, Hilton Boston Back Bay, and Sheraton Boston Hotel have agreed to provide housing and venue space for the ACA’s “Congress of Correction”. By profiting off this conference they facilitate the strengthening of ICE, anti-immigrant institutions, and the prison industry.

Marriott (which operates Sheraton) and Hilton have BOTH publicly committed to not allowing their hotels to be used as detention facilities but why are they allowing them to be used by the people in charge of and responsible for the detention centers??

MAKE 3 SHORT CALLS on Thurs 7/25 and Fri 7/26 to tell Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton we see their complicity and REJECT their profiteering off injustice. We demand they CANCEL all contracts with the ACA. When you’ve called, please fill out our report-back form:


**New numbers today!**

Marriott & Sheraton Corporate Social Responsibility – 301-380-3550 – ask for Barbara

Hilton Global Headquarters – 703 883 1000

Christopher J. Nassetta 
(President) ext. 31010
Stephen Arnold
(VP, Customer Service) ext. 66909

Phone Script:

Hello, my name is ________. I am calling because I learned that your hotel is profiting off the detention of immigrants, mass incarceration, and the abuse of prisoners by hosting attendees to the American Correctional Association’s conference in Boston August 1-6.

The ACA conference exists to strengthen the people behind the concentration camps on the border and the warehousing of Black and brown US citizens. Companies profiting off the detention centers are being honored at the conference, like GEO Group– the company running the horrific concentration camps at the border.

Your company recently publicly declared it would not allow its hotels to be used as detention facilities. The logical extension of this moral stance is to refuse to profit off of the corporations running prisons, jails, and concentration camps.

We demand that you immediately cancel all bookings related to the ACA conference and produce a public statement declaring your hotel will not be complicit in genocide and the caging of human beings.

Will you be canceling all contracts with the conference?

Tell us how it went at:


#NoMoreCages Call Report

Please note: none of these field are mandatory. Only fill out what you feel comfortable sharing. This is to help us adjust our strategy as we go.

#NOMORECAGES, Shut Down the ACA! Call-in Action

Instructions here:


For reminders to join the phone zap on 7/25 and 7/26 to keep prison profiteers and detention center developers out of Boston, see the form below.

Background info:

The American Correctional Association (ACA) is flooding Boston with wardens, jailers, and detention profiteers August 1-6. The ACA accredits prisons that abuse transgender people, detain immigrants in concentration camps, separate families, and profit off of evil. Learn more about them here:

Boston Marriott Copley Place, Hilton Boston Back Bay, and Sheraton Boston Hotel have agreed to provide housing for the ACA’s “Congress of Correction”. By profiting off this conference they facilitate the strengthening of white supremacist, anti-immigrant institutions, companies, and people.

Marriott (which operates Sheraton) and Hilton have BOTH publicly committed to not allowing their hotels to be used as detention facilities but why are they allowing them to be used by the people in charge of and responsible for those facilities?

**Sign up below to make 3 SHORT CALLS on 7/25 and 7/26 to tell Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton we see their complicity and REJECT their profiteering off injustice. We demand they CANCEL all bookings allotted to the ACA. #DeeperThanWater #NoMoreCages #NoHotelsForICE**

If you want, we’ll send you an email or text reminder with all the call info and a call script on Thurs 7/25 and Fri 7/26!

Update: our sign-up for 7/25 and 7/26 has ended but opposition to the ACA has only just begin. Sign up for the #nomorecages action list on Mayfirst and get ready for our big event going live.

Who is the American Correctional Association?

In May of 2019, Deeper Than Water announced a campaign in partnership with local organizations to oppose the re-accreditation of NCCI Gardner by the American Correctional Association. Despite a long history of repeat health violations, as well as heart-felt testimonials from families impacted by this facility, the ACA ultimately re-accredited the institution.

Reporting by the Prison Policy Initiative and Prison Legal News has raised questions for a number of years about the exact nature of the ACA’s accreditation process. Recently, in the wake of horrific images coming out of ICE detention centers groups have begun to look into the massive deportation and incarceration machine that makes these camps possible, particularly on the companies and agencies that are supposed to make sure things like this never happen. The largest of which is the ACA.


So who are they?


Reporting over $16M in assets in 2016 with over $9M in annual revenue the ACA is the oldest accrediting body in the United States for prisons and detention centers. And while it is listed as a 501c3 entity with the IRS, it is a shockingly lucrative business: that same year, executive director James Gondle received over $440k in base compensation, with an additional $89k in “other compensation”, totaling annual earnings of over half a million dollars. While the agency reported lobbying efforts to the IRS, it failed to disclose just how much it spent in the process, leaving that part of their 990 filings blank.

The ACA can make as much as $10k on a single re-accreditation, but the high price tags ensure that no one is denied the ACA’s seal of approval. The ACA is a virtual degree mill for unscrupulous government agencies looking for a way to convince the public that everything is fine.  ACA leadership ensures that inspections will go off without a hitch by employing career prison officials from both the public and private sectors, enjoying a cozy relationship with groups like GEO and CoreCivic.


 ICE detention centers


The ACA has never met a detention center it didn’t love. 

For example, they accredit the ICE processing center recently visited by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, the El Paso Detention Center. El Paso also houses children who have been separated from their parents, many held in hieleras, or “freezer cells”.  El Paso is extremely overcrowded, and those who have visited the facility report that detainees are being forced to drink out of toilets to hydrate themselves.


Image outside the El Paso Processing Center


The ACA clearly has no objection to hieleras, as it also accredited the Cibola County Detention Center, where transgender refugee Roxana Hernandez died of pneumonia and HIV complications after being placed in a freezer cell this Spring.

Similarly, the ACA lists the Aurora Detention Center, run by the for-profit GEO Group. Aurora’s conditions are so bad that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released this damning report for horrific conditions. Aurora is currently accredited by ACA.

Records available through the Freedom of Information Act also show that the ACA has been accrediting the Florence Service Processing Center in Arizona since 2007, when it granted ICE a 180-day extension on their audit before regularly granting them accreditation regardless of what was found. Florence has a horrific record, which the ACLU documented in this 2011 report. Florence has been back in the news this year for a Mumps outbreak. All the while, FSCP has enjoyed accreditation through the ACA.

In 2015, widespread abuses of detainees at Florence made the news again, joined by Eloy Detention Center which even failed ICE’s own internal audit. Despite this, Eloy remains an accredited facility on the ACA’s website.



Shockingly, the ACA has also accredited some of the worst prisons in the United States, including the Lousiana State Penitentiary, more commonly known as “Angola”, from its time as a plantation.  Currently, Angola is the site of ongoing scrutiny for deadly medical neglect, stifling heat. A video smuggled out of Angola was part of the lead-up to the 2018 National Prison Strike. This prisoner-made video shows an inside look at the cells the ACA has regularly accredited. 

Angola’s operations have changed very little from it’s time as a plantation.


Many, many other notorious prisons have also received uninterupted accreditation from the ACA. The East Mississippi Correctional Facility, whose horrific conditions and widespread abuses of mentally ill prisoners can be seen in this ACLU report is among those accredited. 

picture of rotting cell at ECMF
This EMCF cell is one example of the conditions the ACA finds more than acceptable. Click on the image for a virtual tour of the facility, courtesy of the ACLU. 




At the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, a pregnant woman in labor was put in solitary confinement for asking to see a doctor, forced to give birth alone. Other detainees described hearing the screaming from adjoining cells. Read the ACA’s glowing 2017 accreditation report of the Santa Rita Jail. 

The Dekalb County Jail, currently the site of ongoing protests shows a similar history of neglect and yet, inexplicably, re-accreditation. This may be more explainable than others, as some of Dekalb’s leadership sits on one of the ACA’s committees while the director of healthcare was nominated to the ACA Board in 2018.

instagram post from Dekalb


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