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Jenni Nakamoto

Owner, The Nakamoto Group, Inc.

Jenni Nakamoto is the owner of The Nakamoto Group, Inc. Through her business she holds several contracts with the federal government, including a contract to inspect U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Nakamoto received criticism for her business’s role in passing inspections of ICE facilities that have records of inhumane conditions and abusive treatment of detained people. Nakamoto has, regardless, defended her business’a inspection processes during Congressional testimony. Equity Forward has therefore rated Nakamoto as red.

The Nakamoto Group Has Contracted With ICE Since 2007

The Nakamoto Group Established Its First Contract With ICE In 2007. “In 2007, we were asked to attend a meeting at ICE Headquarters where we were asked to perform on-site monitoring services and to provide monthly technical assistance and included full time monitors for forty of the largest ICE detention facilities and Monthly, Quarterly, and bi-annual reviews of other smaller ICE detention facilities. The goal was to ensure that the facilities were in compliance with the standards. ICE piggy backed onto the existing contract we had at the time with the Department of Justice and we did this type of work for them from 2007-2010. In 2009, we won a full and open competition to perform these same duties for five years. However, after year one, in 2010, the government chose not to exercise any more years of the contract and instead chose to in-source that program. In effect, terminating our contract.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19]

Previous Employment Of Note

The Nakamoto Group Was Certified As A Small Business In 2004. “The Nakamoto Group, Inc. was certified in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program in 2004, and successfully graduated the certification in 2013.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19]

The Nakamoto Group Has Been The “Sole Contractor” Responsible For Inspecting ICE Facilities. “For at least the last two years, the Nakamoto Group — registered to Jennifer Nakamoto’s spacious home in the rolling farmland of western Maryland — has been the sole contractor responsible for inspecting nearly 100 federal immigration detention centers and county jails that house tens of thousands of noncitizens awaiting deportation hearings or decisions on pleas for asylum.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/26/19]

The Nakamoto Group, Inc. Is A Long-Time Government Contractor That Inspects DHS And DOJ Facilities

The Nakamoto Group’s First Facility Review Contract Was Procured In 2005 With The Department Of Justice. “In 2005, we obtained a contract with the now dissolved Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, which was a department under the Department of Justice. We won a place within a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) to provide Detention Expert Support Services to the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee. Using Performance Based Detention Standards, we sent teams to provide an expert specialized service consultation by conducting facility reviews of Non-Federal contract jails and detention facilities which housed United States Marshals Service (USMS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19]

The Business Was Brought On To Create Standards For Families Detained By ICE In 2007. “Also in 2007, my company was approached by ICE and the Juvenile Family Residential Unit (JFRMU) to help them coordinate a cadre of experts: A former senior federal official with experience in providing health care services to indigent women and children, a Daycare provider, licensed social worker, medical doctor, Educator with a Ph.D., Juvenile corrections expert, to create the standards for JFRMU and to inspect the family residential facilities. We held that contract from 2007-2015.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19]

In 2017, The Nakamoto Group Was Contracted To Review Medical Records Of People Detained By ICE. “In 2017, we were asked by the Immigration Health Service Corp. to also provide an additional medical expert to review the medical records to determine whether or not the detainees held at the facility have had access to medical services in accordance with best practices.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19

The Nakamoto Group Also Holds Federal Contracts Related To Infant And Maternal Health Promotion

The Nakamoto Group’s First Federal Contract Was Geared Toward A Children’s Health Insurance Program. “The first contract awarded to my company was in 2004, to maintain a hotline entitled Insure Kids Now, which is a hotline that provides either free or low cost healthcare to kids through the State’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, within the United States and its territories.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19]

A Federal Prenatal Hotline Is Also Managed By The Nakamoto Group. “We still maintain that contract after 15 years and now it also includes another hotline entitled 311-Baby which helps expectant and new mothers by providing information via phone. 311-BABY also works in conjunction with a program called text4baby that text messages throughout the pregnancy and up to age one.” [House Homeland Security Testimony, 9/26/19]

The Nakamoto Group Has Inspected Government Facilities That Have Records Of Inhumane Treatment And Even Death Due To Inadequate Medical Care

The Nakamoto Group’s Inspection Reports Failed To Thoroughly Scrutinize Government Detention Centers That Have Red Flags According To Immigrant Rights Groups And Even The DHS Inspector General

The Nakamoto Group’s Assessments of U.S. Detention Centers Were In “Stark Contrast” To Assessments Done By The DHS Inspector General. “Nakamoto’s bland assessments — some of which date back more than a decade — stand in stark contrast to recent findings by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, state auditors and outside watchdog groups, which have documented lax medical and mental health care and inappropriate use of solitary confinement at multiple U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency facilities.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/26/19]

Kaiser Health News Reviewed Nakamoto’s Inspection Reports And Found “Disturbing Patterns” With The Company’s Audits. “A review by Kaiser Health News of thousands of pages of inspection reports from 2007 to 2012, and 2017 to 2019 — made available through litigation and new federal reporting requirements — reveals disturbing patterns about the company’s audits, including a general willingness to accept the accounts of the facilities that the company is paid to scrutinize, and to discount detainees’ complaints. The findings show that Nakamoto has rarely reported bad news about conditions at the for-profit and government-run facilities it audits. Violations in the quality of medical care and safety of detainees are infrequent and cursory, according to a review of federal records and court documents.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/26/19]

Conditions At Adelanto ICE Processing Facility Raised Concerns From DHS Inspector General And A Disability Rights Advocacy Group, Yet None Of These Concerns Were Flagged By The Nakamoto Group. For example, a surprise May 2018 inspection by government investigators at the Adelanto ICE Processing Facility in California’s Mojave Desert “revealed significant health and safety risks,” “improper and overly restrictive segregation” and “inadequate detainee medical care,” according to the Homeland Security agency’s inspector general. A separate 2019 investigation by Disability Rights California, a nonprofit group with legal authority to monitor detention centers in California, highlighted people with serious mental illness being doused with pepper spray and multiple unreported suicide attempts. Yet Nakamoto drew a very different conclusion in its 2018 report on Adelanto: While it noted hundreds of grievances from detainees and 83 physical assaults during the inspection period—more than one-third of which resulted in injuries that required medical referrals—its report concluded that “without exception, detainees stated that they felt safe at this facility.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/26/19]

U.S. Federal Detention Centers Found To Have Unlivable Conditions Passed Nakamoto Group Inspections. “A June report by the inspector general found unsafe and unhealthy conditions’ at three other detention centers as well. All four had been given passing grades by Nakamoto.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/26/19]

The Company Has Been Criticized For Its Failure To Conduct Consistently Thorough Investigations. “The same DHS report criticized the Nakamoto Group, finding that the company’s inspections ‘do not fully examine actual conditions or identify all compliance deficiencies’ and that its inspectors ‘are not always thorough.’ Independent investigations have come to similar conclusions. Scott Shuchart, who spent eight years at DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, told the Project on Government Oversight, ‘Nakamoto has no credibility because of the volume of problems it has failed to uncover at multiple facilities over multiple years…It is a checklist driven, superficial inspection process.’” [Mother Jones, 2/10/20]

Facilities With Deaths Linked To Inadequate Medical Care Have Passed Nakamoto Group Inspections. “US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts with the Nakamoto Group to inspect facilities holding ICE detainees for more than 72 hours. But facilities with serious deficiencies have passed Nakamoto inspections year after year, including both before and after deaths that occurred following severely inadequate medical care.” [Human Rights Watch, 11/25/19]

Grievances Captured By A Federal Agency Were Disregarded By The Nakamoto Group's Inspection Report. “The people locked inside the for-profit detention center spoke to journalists and advocates. They staged protests and hunger strikes. They wanted the world to know that inside the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, New Mexico, due process was a fiction and degradation was the norm. None of it seemed to work. So in the fall of 2019, they escalated their tactics — this time threatening mass suicide. Four months later, in January 2020, a team of inspectors working for the Nakamoto Group, the company that the government pays to inspect its immigration jails, arrived on the scene … Prior to the team’s arrival, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement created a by-the-numbers summary of the situation at Otero, noting that the people locked inside had filed 257 grievances in the preceding year and been accused of 301 disciplinary infractions. Nakamoto’s summary of its inspection offered no indications of serious conflict on the inside, let alone the kind of conditions that would prompt multiple people to deprive themselves of food or consider suicide.” [The Intercept, 1/5/21]

…Yet Nakamoto Told Congress That She Sees No Need To Change Her Business Practices

Nakamoto Defended Her Company’s Business Practices During Senate Testimony. “Lawmakers got a rare chance on Thursday to publicly question the embattled CEO of the Nakamoto Group, which has faced a torrent of criticism from government officials and human rights groups for providing substandard inspections of immigrant detention centers.Members of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Management, & Accountability seemed shocked when Jennifer Nakamoto testified that she sees no need to change her business practices.” [Truthout, 9/28/19]

Nakamoto Repeatedly Denied Any Wrongdoing Of Her Business Practices. “Committee members repeatedly asked Nakamoto to respond to the OIG report, which found that Nakamoto’s inspections failed to lead to sustained compliance or improvements — with some deficiencies remaining unaddressed for years’ — and often overlooked problems related to health and safety, even downplaying the discovery of ‘nooses’ or knotted up sheets that some detainees use for privacy, but others, such as Jean Carlos Alfonso Jimenez-Joseph, have used for suicide.” [Truthout, 9/28/19]

Advocates Have Implied Nakamoto Is More Concerned With Maintaining Her Contract Than Conducting Critical Inspections. “She appeared to be very sensitive to the priorities of the people at ICE who oversee her inspection contract,” said Carl Takei, a Senior ACLU Staff Attorney who spoke to Truthout in his capacity as a member of the Steering Committee for Tsuru for Solidarity, a group of Japanese-Americans that fights the incarceration and separation of migrant families. The group has called on Nakamoto to apologize and end its work for ICE.” [Truthout, 9/28/19]

The Federal Government Has Paid The Nakamoto Group Inc., Millions Of Dollars Over The Course Of Several Presidential Administrations

The Nakamoto Group, Inc. Has Been Paid Millions By ICE. “Since 2015, ICE has paid Nakamoto Group $22,538,084 to conduct pre-announced annual inspections that even ICE staff called ‘useless’ and ‘very, very, very difficult to fail,’ according to a 2018 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. But instead of cancelling Nakamoto’s contract, ICE’s Office of Acquisition Management recently approved a $3,738,177 extension to the company’s work order on September 20, just days before the September 26 hearing.” [Truthout, 9/28/19]

The Nakamoto Group Has Received Upwards Of 50 Million Dollars From Federal Contracts. “Despite this, Nakamoto has received over $50 million in government contracts from ICE since 2007, according to USA Spending, and Kaiser Health News reported that its current contract could secure another $16 million.” [Think Progress, 7/30/19]

Both Republican And Democratic Administrations Have Renewed Contracts With The Nakamoto Group. “Previous administrations have also offered contracts to the company, as Kaiser Health News noted this week. It was first hired under President George W. Bush to audit immigration detention facilities. The company later had its contracts extended by President Barack Obama’s administration.” [Think Progress, 7/30/19]

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