Northwest Detention Center is a privately operated concentration camp located on the sludge pits of the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Washington, USA. The camp is operated by the GEO Group on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The NWDC's current capacity is 1575, making it one of the largest immigration prisons in the United States. CCA and GEO get about 50 percent of all their revenue from the federal government; only 11 percent of their revenue comes from the Bureau of Prisons.
The detention center opened in 2004 by Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) under a contract with The US Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, CSC was purchased by the GEO Group, thus acquiring the Northwest Detention Center.
In June 2008, the Seattle University School of Law's International Human Rights Clinic published an investigation on the NWDC concluding that conditions they found, "violate both international human rights law and domestic Constitutional protections."
A contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expanded the facility's housing capacity in 2009, making it the largest detention center owned by GEO Group on the West Coast.
In March 2014, inmates launched a hunger strike to protest conditions at NWDC. According to ICE, 750 detainees had refused meals. House Representative Adam Smith (D-9) criticized the NWDC in an interview with The Stranger in May, calling for improvement of the "shocking" conditions. Protesters are calling for better food, speedier trials, lower commissary prices, and increased wages for labor.
In April 2015, guards allegedly beat Alfredo Rodriguez, an undocumented Honduran immigrant in his 60s. Rodriguez had reportedly criticized a guard for mistreating an inmate who was mopping. Rodriguez has since been deported, and Jennifer Lesmez, who represents six detainees who witnessed the incident, says some were threatened with retaliation if they complained. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Andrew Muñoz disputed the account, adding that "ICE policies forbid retaliation" toward detainees.
In October 2015, the Geo Group renewed a ten-year contract with ICE.
On August 18, 2016, the U.S. Justice Department announced that they would end privatization of federal prisons, however this would not affect detention centers of immigrants, which were 62% privately operated in 2014 compared to 8% of federal prisoners. Geo stocks declined sharply after the announcement.
On September 20, 2017 WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against GEO Group, Inc., the private prison company that runs Tacoma's Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). The lawsuit alleges that GEO Group, Inc., the second-largest private prison provider in the country, has for years violated Washington State's minimum wage law, paying its workers $1 per day or in some instances, with snacks and extra food. "Let's be honest about what's going on," said Ferguson, speaking at a downtown Seattle news conference. "GEO has a captive population of vulnerable individuals who cannot easily advocate for themselves. This corporation is exploiting those workers for their own profits."