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More Private Prison Tents in West Texas?

Are tents catching on as the latest fad in private prison construction in Texas?

It's been widely reported that Management and Training Corporation's Willacy Detention Center in Raymondville is home to 2,000 detainees contracted from Immigration and Customs Enforcement living in windowless Kevlar tent-like structures. The facility has become known as "Tent City." Another 1,000 detainees reside at the WDC in brick-and-mortar buildings the company calls "firm structures." The facility's tents had to be evacuated in the run-up to Hurricane Dolly last month.

Now comes word out of west Texas that Emerald Corrections is constructing a tent-like addition to its Hudspeth County Regional Correctional Center in Sierra Blanca. The Hudspeth facility was built as a U.S. Marshal's facility, and drew controversy over its financing mechanism, and is most likely housing immigrants being criminally prosecuted for immigration-related crimes.

I first heard that the facility was expanding from Sierra Blanca environmental and social justice activist Bill Addington, and it's now confirmed in pictures from Border Ambassador and frequent private prison protestor Jay Johnson-Castro. These structures look fairly similar to the Raymondville facility, though I've heard they may be constructed out of a foam-like structure. The facility may have to worry about failing federal reviews, as many federally-contracted private prisons have in the past several years, as reported by the Texas Observer.

It's certainly a disturbing trend in private prison development. We'll keep you posted.

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I am running a risk with this post.  I will keep in as brief as possible -

I was the Project Manager who built the prison expansion for Emerald  in Sierra Blanca at the Hudspeth Facility.

To set the story straight:

Walls - 4inch metal insulated walls - they were 23 guage on either side, and the middle was R13 polystyreen insulation

The roof sail - R19 roof sails - US Fire Certificates to meet proper building codes

Floor - raised steel plated, and R8 insutaled. 

Interior - ACA restroom units with 'on demand' hot water and timers in the showers.

Lock down cells with control rooms

Office stations w/restrooms

Welded bars over non-operatable windows

Sally ports

Ducted A/C and heaters

We were asked to build these facilites to Emerald's specifcations - NOT I.C.E, nor Homeland Security.  Emerald had the theory, "if we build it, the contract will come". didn't.  I.C.E. would not approve the facilities as it did not meet THEIR specs.  So, Emerald thought they did not have to pay our company for them.  Our company sued Emerald, I testified, and we won.  I left the company years ago, and have no idea the status of the buildings to date.  (3/28/12).