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Removal of Idaho Prisoners from GEO Jail Threatens County's Finances

In the wake of multiple scandals and suicides involving Idaho prisoners in GEO Group's Texas prisons, the Idaho Department of Corrections finally removed its prisoners from Texas's private prisons last October. One of those shuttered lock-ups was the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield.

Now Littlefield may be suffering after taking out debt in the form of revenue bonds to pay for the facility's construction, according to an article at Lubbock Online ("Littlefield Detention Center to Close," December 13),

"We understand the gravity of the situation and the citizens' concerns, but we are working hard toward a solution," said Danny Davis, Littlefield city manager, who was informed about GEO's decision on Nov. 7.

He said the city has since hired Woodlands-based Carlisle & Associates, a municipal consultant, which has been brought on board to sell the 372-bed prison.

Littlefield, which issued revenue bonds to construct the facility as part of an economic development strategy, still owes $10 million.

However, Davis said, the city had already set aside a year's worth of bond payments as a precautionary measure when it made the decision to build.

"We have enough to make at least the next three payments," adding the city should not have to tap those reserve funds until August.

 

Of course, this is one of the little-discussed ramifications of floating revenue bonds to construct a prison - if the contract for prisoners falls through, the public agency that floated the debt is still responsible for paying back the debt. See www.publicbonds.org for more on municipals bonds and their implications for counties.

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I sent you a link regarding this a while back, but I don't know if you caught it: http://www.newtexasradical.org/archive/32-january-2009/195-texan-roots-of-idaho-prison-riot