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GEO Group Continues to Draw Fire Over Laredo "Superjail"

GEO Group's Laredo "Superjail" continues to draw fire from local opponents and the South Texas press, and it looks like Laredo decision-makers may finally be starting to take notice. As Kathleen reported back in May, GEO Group CEO George Zoley visited Laredo and distributed $250,000 checks to the city and county governments, a visit that coincided with zoning permits and utility hookup awards.

An article in last Wednesday's Laredo Morning Times outlines how Webb County Commissioners rejected the $250,000 "donation" from the GEO Group after it was criticized by local attorney Ron Rodriguez, who has represented several victims of abuse in GEO prisons, amongst others. From the article:

"Commissioners, this is not a donation, this is a payment," said Ron Rodriguez, who represents the families of Guillermo De La Rosa, an inmate who died while serving time in a Geo Group facility in Willacy County.

"This transaction is dirty, the money is dirty and everybody that touches it will have dirty hands," Rodriguez continued.

The Commissioners then voted unanimously to reject the "donation." Word from Laredo is that the Laredo City Council, who was also offered a $250,000 "donation," will likely vote tonight on a proposal to reject the money as well.

The "superjail" proposal has also been drawn continued criticism from LareDOS, the award-winning alternative monthly. The latest issue (caution - giant PDF!) features three articles about the "superjail" - including pieces about last month's Senate Committee on Criminal Justice hearings sparked by the scandal at GEO's Coke County juvenile facility, a story about about a protest at GEO's Val Verde prison, and a piece by yours truly about GEO's ongoing operational problems in Texas. We'll keep you updated on the status of the Laredo "superjail" and its opposition.

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