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Emerald Mineral Wells Prison Hearing Set for Thursday

A controversial proposed Emerald detention center in Mineral Wells will be the subject of a public meeting, albeit one facilitated by the private prison company, on Thursday, according to an article in the Mineral Wells Index ("ICE detention facility public hearing set for Thursday at MWHS," March 31).

The Mineral Wells City Council is hosting a question-and-comment time Thursday evening at the Mineral Wells High School cafeteria on the proposed Emerald Companies correctional and detention facility.

Emerald will be presenting information on the proposed facility to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees at the 6:30 p.m. meeting. The public will also have a chance to comment on the project. The meeting was scheduled after city council members agreed to table the issue of a land use permit at the March 17 city council meeting.

Emerald Companies entered a 90-day option agreement in January with the Industrial Foundation to obtain nearly 62 acres northeast of the airport to build a detention facility. 

Several things jump out at me about this story.  First, this hearing appears to be an attempt by Emerald to diffuse criticism that was aired at a hearing earlier this month.  Particularly, Mineral Wells residents spoke against the potential economic negative impacts that the prison could bring to the community, a concern confirmed by the research on the subject. These concerns, amongst others, led Caldwell County residents to reject two similar detention centers last year.  

Second, while Emerald has consistently stated that this facility will be an ICE detention facility, I'm skeptical that ICE has actually solicited this facility.  Rather, I'd imagine that this facility is being built on speculation that they will get an ICE detention contract, which, given Mineral Wells location an hour and a half west of Dallas, does not seem to be a given.

Third, I wonder if Emerald will address lawsuits and scandals that have dogged several of its facilities, including its detention center in La Salle County.  In that county, ongoing disputes over the management agreement have led the county to sue Emerald over breach of contract issues last year.  The complaint is attached to this post.

We'll let you know what happens in Mineral Wells tomorrow.  

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State and Federal prison programs originate from government design, and therefore, need to be maintained by the government. It’s time to restore the principles and the vacated promise of our judicial system. John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is while the sun is shinning”. Well the sun may not be shinning but, it’s not a bad time to begin repair on a dangerous roof that is certain to fall…. because, “Incarcerating people for profit is, in a word WRONG” There is an urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of cynicism, indifference, apathy and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope. It is our hope that you will support the NPSCTAPP with a show of solidarity by signing our petition. We intend to assemble a collection of one million signatures, which will subsequently be attached to a proposition for consideration. 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