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Legal Groups Call on Prince Edward County to Void New Farmville Detention Center Contracts Due to Violation of Virginia Open Meetings Laws

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Posted: Mar. 15, 2024

For Immediate Release
March 15, 2024

Arianna Rosales,

Washington, DC – The National Immigration Project, Detention Watch Network, Legal Aid Justice Center, and the National Immigrant Justice Center sent a letter yesterday to the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors alerting them of violations of Virginia law when they discussed and voted on contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”)  and Abyon, LLC for the Farmville Detention Center. 

From October through February, Prince Edward County’s Board of Supervisors discussed an “intergovernmental contract” during their monthly meetings in closed sessions that were not open to the public. During their meeting on March 12th, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors conducted another “closed session” to discuss the “intergovernmental contract” and a “public contract for detention facility services.” This “closed session” was added to the agenda a mere hours before the meeting. After returning from the “closed session,” the Board of Supervisors proceeded to vote on both contracts without any public hearings on this topic and without providing advance notice to constituents that they intended to vote on these contracts that evening.

“Prince Edward County’s Board of Supervisors conducted a vote on contracts to keep the abusive Farmville Detention Center open without public input and behind closed doors,” said Amber Qureshi, Staff Attorney at the National Immigration Project. “We demand that the County not take any steps in response to these unlawful votes and commit to another vote with public discussion and input.”

"The decision to enter into a contract with a private prison company and ICE carries serious consequences, and should absolutely not be made behind closed doors," said Jesse Franzblau, Senior Policy Analyst, with the National Immigrant Justice Center. "ICA-Farmville detention facility is particularly notorious for widespread abuse and impunity. Prince Edward County needs to abide by basic open government standards, and must give the full opportunity for people to voice their serious concerns with the county becoming complicit in  the inhumane immigration detention system."

“Government entities and public official representatives hold power because it has been granted to them by the people who elected them to represent us and serve us. The actions of the Prince Edward County’s Board of Supervisors failed to fulfill their responsibility to their constituents.” said Flor Lopez, Immigrant Community Organizer, with the Legal Aid Justice Center. “They have failed in their responsibility to their constituents, and in doing so they have failed us all. Prince Edward County constituents had to witness that this week. We will not be shut out of meetings that should be public. We will hold them accountable to fulfill their duties as public officials and witness the power of organized people who fight for what is human, right, and just.”

The letter details several ways in which Prince Edward County’s Board of Supervisors violated Virginia Freedom of Information Act laws by failing to conduct open and transparent meetings about the detention contract. The groups have asked Prince Edward County to respond within five working days and commit to a vote on the contracts with open and transparent public hearings in compliance with Virginia law.


The National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) is a membership organization of attorneys, advocates, and community members who are driven by the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, live freely, and flourish. We litigate, advocate, educate, and build bridges across movements to ensure that those most impacted by the immigration and criminal systems are uplifted and supported. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on Facebook, X, and Instagram at @NIPNLG.

The Legal Aid Justice Center partners with communities and clients to fight for racial, social, and economic justice. Together we are dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty.