How Your Eickhoff Cheeseburger Fuels Immigrant Deportation
By LEANDRE BOURDOT and GLENN D. EISENBERG
Have you ever heard a friend compare the quality of Eickhoff food to that of prison food? Well, this may or may not be true in terms of flavor, but the story goes much deeper.
The Sodexo Corporation, which provides the food on campus, once owned an 8% stake in Corrections Corporation of America. Corrections Corporation of America is the largest private corrections corporation in the United States, owning 60 for-profit correctional facilities throughout the country. Sodexo, then “Sodexho,” worked with CCA until a campus-based boycott campaign pushed Sodexho to stop doing business with the corporation in 2001.
However, in 2000, in a closed-door deal, CCA sold its 50% share of the prison company, United Kingdom Detention Services, to Sodexho, which already owned the other 50%. CCA also sold Australian Integrated Management Systems to Sodexho. Both UKDS and AIMS are still owned by Sodexo and very much up and running. Sodexo’s subsidiaries work with governments to design, build, and finance new prisons across the world. Sodexo owns 91 correctional facilities in the UK, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
Most notably, UKDS owns the infamous Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in London. Harmondsworth opened in 2001 and houses 550 detainees, some of whom are children as young as age four. A report of Harmondsworth was dubbed by Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, “the poorest ever issued on an immigration removal centre.” As the report read, Harmondsworth “did not meet three of our four tests for a healthy custodial environment.” The detention center is well known in the United Kingdom for its egregious conditions; however, relatively little is known about in the United States.
Various other facilities run by UKDS were responsible for several inmate suicides. Most of these inmates gave warning signs before they took their lives but nothing was done to prevent their deaths.
A corrections officer at HMP Blakenhurst restrained an inmate face down, shackling his arms, restraining his legs and head, and applying pressure to his spine. This was a direct violation of the guidelines that corrections officers are obligated to follow. The inmate subsequently died.
Sodexo also contracts with natural resource-exploiting companies such as BP Amoco, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Shell, Texaco, Bechtel, Daewoo, Hyundai, Caspian Drilling, Rio Tinto, and Halliburton. Sodexo collaborated with the federal government of Nigeria and its international partners in clearing 35 hectares of virgin mangrove forest on the southern edge of Rivers State in the Niger Delta, placing indigenous Ijaw community under severe threat.
It is unfortunate that the College contracts with such an unsavory corporation as Sodexo; and, hopefully, this will become of increasing concern to students at TCNJ during coming years.
So next time you’re meal-equiving a Panini from the Stud, sipping a latte from the library café, or reluctantly eating a cheeseburger in Eickhoff, remember where this food is coming from and where your money is going.