The $1 Per Day Issue | Merion West

However, some detainees have suggested that though work may nominally be voluntary, a variety of pressures exist to prod detainees into choosing the work option. This often takes the form of using commissary items as the bargaining chip. To this effect, Wilhen Hill Barrientos, a detainee from Guatemala who lived at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia (and who is a member of a class action suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against ICE contractor CoreCivic, Inc.) has suggested that strong pressures existed to push detainees towards working: “If I didn’t work, I would never be able to call my family.” Furthermore, Barrientos alleges that upon arriving at the Stewart Facility that he, “was faced with an impossible choice….Either work for a few cents an hour or live without basic things like soap, shampoo, deodorant, and food.” Detainees such as Barrientos have also reported being awoken at odd hours to do work, including to perform tasks that are strenuous. 
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