Cleanliness Concerns At NW Detention Center

Last week a federal jury decided that private company GEO Group, which operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, owed those formerly detained at the facility $17.3 million in back pay for violation of Washington state’s minimum wage law.

The company had been paying those detained one dollar a day for work such as cleaning and cooking.

But now Maru Mora-Villapando, founder of La Resistencia, says the day after the jury decision, no one was called to work and that a memo was circulated to those detained from GEO Group saying ICE had ordered them to stop the work programs.

Effectively, this means no one is cleaning the facility.

Mora-Villapando has heard from those in the center that guards are not hired to clean, that they are just security; “That the guards have told them that either they have to clean themselves, and they’re not going to be paid, or, they don’t say anything, and people have to clean, because nobody comes in to clean.”

The lack of cleaning at the facility is a public health matter, and Mora-Villapando told detainees to log the hours spent cleaning, as those are hours they should be paid

Mora-Villapando says the success of the litigation is not to be missed, and now the battle is on to get those detained the money they are owed. Mora-Villapando says with all the problems she sees at NWDC, she would like for the contract with GEO Group to end now, as opposed to waiting until it expires in 2025.