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More Bad Press for GEO on Laredo Superjail Deal

LareDOS, an award-winning monthly alternative paper in the Texas border town of Laredo, has published a scathing indictment (PDF only) of the GEO Group’s recent deal with the City of Laredo and Webb County to build a 1,500-bed private US Marshals federal detention center.

As reported earlier here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, GEO president George Zoley showed up in Laredo last month wielding $250,000 checks for both the City and Webb County -- but Zoley did not leave Laredo empty handed. Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas presented him with a building permit and Webb County Judge Danny Valdez gave Zoley an agreement to provide the prison with water and electrical hook-ups.

The LareDOS article quotes Webb County Commissioner Keke Ramirez lamenting a lack of citizens “tell(ing) us that they did not want a prison here.” That comes as a surprise to us at South Texans Opposing Private Prisons who, along with the Encinal Economic Development Corporation, a group of Laredo educators, and national experts, have repeatedly warned that the superjail could bring potential problems with few benefits.

A Grassroots Leadership report also found that the superjail was largely unnecessary, concluding that the US Marshals' prison population growth in South Texas is almost exclusively the result of misguided prosecution of border-crossers and could be avoided with by lessening our emphasis on prosecution in favor of more effective strategies.

I just returned from a Laredo, where a chat with LareDOS editor María Eugenia Guerra (universally known as Meg), revealed that Mayor Salinas has responded to Meg's reporting by removing LareDOS from the airport and City Hall. We'll keep you updated on developments in Laredo.

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