As Nicole reported earlier this month, the scandal involving the indicted and now-resigned Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez receiving illegal gifts from jail commissary company Premier Management seems to be growing.
Premier’s owners are Pat and Michael LeBlanc, Louisiana businessmen who also own the private prison company LCS Corrections. The bribery scandal now appears to have spread to Nueces County (which includes Corpus Christi) and Kleberg County, where private commissary and future detention contracts may have been influenced with similar inappropriate gifts.
Pat LeBlanc is currently running for Louisiana state House of Representatives on a platform as a “pro-business, pro-life, law and order Republican” who is a “strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, adamantly opposes illegal immigration, and is opposed to any state sponsored attempts to expand gambling into Lafayette Parish.” (Interestingly, it looks like Premier Management is not on Pat’s list of business experiences…)
So, who is LCS Corrections and what are their interests in Texas? According to their website, LCS is
“an industry leader in the development and operation of privatized correctional facilities. The company offers a complete range of prison and correctional related services to local, state, and federal agencies.”
Well, an industry leader might be a bit of a stretch. According to our map of private prisons in Texas, LCS currently operates three detention centers in south Texas (compared to nearly 20 operated by GEO Group and nearly 15 by CCA). LCS also has a handful of prisons in Louisiana and at least one in Alabama.
The company’s record in Texas is far from seamless as well. According to list of private prison incidents, LCS prisons in Texas have experienced the following problems:
Brooks County Detention Center (Fallfurrias, TX)
- An immigrant detainee escaped from Brooks County Detention Center; the resulting manhunt involved over 100 officers from the Brooks County Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Public Safety, the Border Patrol, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the local fire department (2004)
East Hidalgo Detention Center (La Villa, TX)
- Five undocumented immigrants and a former police officer escaped from the privately run South Texas jail. The escapees were alleged members of the drug gang Raza Unida charged with drug trafficking crimes (2006).
- The facility was repeatedly found in noncompliance with state standards. An inspection conducted eight days after six prisoners escaped cited the prison for employing too few guards, adding an unauthorized number of bunks, and keeping unlicensed guards on the payroll.
- (2006) A prison guard and two other people were arrested for aiding in the escape of six prisoners from the facility (2006).
- An 18-year-old guard overseeing the six prisoners who escaped from the correctional facility had been on the job less than three months and had not yet undergone a training course mandated for Texas jailers. The guard reported being overpowered by inmates. (2006)
We’ll keep you updated on news about LCS and the Premier management as it comes to us.