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South Sound

Judge: Prison company to pay Washington $4.5M in legal fees

Workers mop floors and wash dishes in the kitchen of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren
/
The Associated Press file
Workers mop floors and wash dishes in the kitchen of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Tacoma on Sept. 10, 2019. A federal jury has determined that The GEO Group must pay minimum wage — rather than $1 a day — to immigration detainees who perform tasks like cooking and cleaning at its for-profit detention center in Washington state.

The private prison company The GEO Group has been ordered to pay the Washington state Attorney General's Office nearly $4.5 million in legal fees, after the state sued to force the company to pay detainees at its immigration lockup in Tacoma minimum wage for work they perform there.

A federal jury ruled in October that detainees held at the Northwest detention center are entitled to minimum wage for cooking, cleaning and other tasks, rather than $1 per day.

The company was ordered to pay former detainees as well as the state more than $23 million in all.

The judgments have been put on hold while GEO appeals, but in the meantime U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan on Tuesday awarded the state nearly $4.5 million in attorney fees.

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