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GEO Group "Superjail" Controversial with Laredo Candidates

I checked out the pre-election coverage of the south Texas monthly LareDos (read the full issue - warning big PDF!) to see what the candidates in last Tuesday's Democratic primary were saying about the controversial U.S. Marshals contracted "superjail" to be operated by The GEO Group. Apparently, the superjail remains controversial with candidates taking a variety of positions on its construction.

In the race for County Commission Precinct 1, three challengers to incumbent Frank Sciaraffa all said they are opposed to the prison, while arguing for various levels of county opposition to the plan. Raul L. Reyes, the current mayor of El Cenizo, appears the most vocal in his opposition to the facility. Sciaraffa, for his part, claims that the county has no say in the prison issue whatsoever, despite issuing water hook-ups for the 1,500 bed facility. The Laredo Morning Times reports that Reyes and Sciaraffa appear to be headed for a runoff.

In the County Commission Precinct 3 race, incumbent Jerry Garza, who accoring to the same LMT article won a slight majority of the votes, seems resigned to allow the prison to open, while CY Benavides openly applauded the superjail. Challenger "Cuate" Mendoza opposed the superjail saying "We must work with Federal officials to get the Geo Group out of the jail business."

In related news, the Laredo Morning Times reported last week that GEO Group donated $20,000 to the Laredo United Way. GEO Group's $250,000 donations to the Webb County and the City of Laredo last spring were rejected after being criticized by local activists and the media as "dirty money" and an apparent quid pro quo for building permits and water hook-ups.