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Major U.S. Detention Center Sued for ‘Exploiting’ Detainees

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Washington State Attorney Bob Ferguson

Furthering his reputation as a crusader on immigration issues, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is taking on the multibillion-dollar corporation that runs the country’s fourth-largest detention center, located in Tacoma.

Ferguson filed a lawsuit Wednesday against The GEO Group, which operates the Northwest Detention Center and about 140 other such facilities nationwide. The suit, filed in Pierce County Superior Court, accuses GEO of violating state minimum-wage law by paying detainees $1 a day — or sometimes just chips and candy — to work at the detention center.

“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.”

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