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More Opposition to Mineral Wells Emerald Detention Center

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The proposed Emerald Detention Center in Mineral Wells continued to draw opposition at last Thursday's public hearing on the prison proposal, according to an article in the Mineral Wells Index ("ICE project gets chilly reception," April 6, 2009). 

Nearly 20 people spoke, almost all voicing concerns with the proposal. “Our concern is property value surrounding it,” Alex McKee, ranch manager for Bunker Hill ranch, said. The facility would be located on the south and east borders of Bob Minyard’s ranch.

McKee said they have cleaned up the area and created a 20-acre lake for possible future home developments in the Harvey Road area and are concerned that a detention facility would devalue property.

“Our concern is visitors,” David Brock, vice president of business development for Hydroscience Technologies Inc., said. Brock said he is concerned about the traffic of visitors to the facility coming and going. “I’m not sure in the long-term interest, this is the right way to go,” Brock said.

Despite the opposition of the majority of the 90 people there, city leaders continue to push the prison,

“As mayor, and I believe that I can speak for some or all of our council members, as well, I feel that this is a project which is worth while and would be beneficial to our community,” (Mayor) Allen said, before introducing Steve Afeman, chief operating officer of Emerald Companies.

“We’re the company that had the escape [last weekend and] … want you all to know that it’s not a perfect science,” Afeman said to start out the night, saying the transportation officer did not follow rules and regulations. “He’ll be lucky to retain his job at this point.” ....

Emerald's Afeman then went into details about the facility which raised questions to me...

The Emerald run facility would undergo several inspections each year, according to Afeman, including an annual ICE audit, an unannounced ICE audit, a 3 day audit by an ICE private contractor, and an annual Texas Jail Commission inspection.

First, does Emerald actually have a contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to build this detention center?  In none of the media that I've read about this proposal detention center has an ICE spokesman been quoted saying that the facility has been solicited by the agency.  Second, Afeman is actually incorrect in saying that the Texas Jail Standards Commission would inspect the facility.  As the law is currently written, TCJS cannot go into private facilities housing only federal prisoners, though SB 1690 would reverse that.

If we find the answers to these questions, we'll let you know...



A new detention facility would be beneficial to the MW community because of job creation and the "visitors" would be utilizing local hotels and convience stores while visiting. The current facility utilized by ICE is located in Haskell, Texas and MW would be a much more convenient location for the Dallas ICE Field Office. Get it on line and improve the MW Palo Pinto economy.

Whoever wrote the above comment has not done their research. Studies have shown that private prisons do NOT make for a better economy. Jobs? CCA on the old Fort Wolters base has jobs that they CAN'T FILL. The above article just told us that Emerald lied when they said that the Texas Jail Standards Commission would inspect the facility. Emerald has also been accused of inhumane treatment of inmates. And why would we want to junk up our nice airport with a prison? Can you imagine what a nightmare the water and sewage for a 1000 bed facility will cause? What about the fact that the prison will be in Parker County AND the City of Mineral Wells. MW gets all the mess and Parker Co. will get some, if not all the $$! I can go on & on. I've done the research! THIS IS NOT WHAT MINERAL WELLS NEEDS!!

Hey you, with the red stained kool-aide tongue, You are drinking the kool-aide, aren't you? Why can't they fill the jobs??? There are plenty of quality individuals in MW and the greater Parker County area qualified. Have some faith in your community. News articles don't always convey the TRUTH. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be the only entity utilizing this facility, housing detainees awaiting removal/deportation from the United States, and they (ICE) have very stringent standards as it pertains to detention facilities. This will include annual reviews by Department of Homeland Security / Office of Professional Responsibility entities as well as state sponsored detention facility inspections. Your nice airport is not a place for memorials, fountains, and parks. In most modern day communities the airport is where industrial type buildings are located, for obvious reasons. This facility would be right in step with this environment. After all, it is not like it is located on the beaten path for everyone to see. As for the detainees flooding the hospital, this facility will have its own medical staff including a doctor and nurses to tend to the detainees. Only on very rare occasions will they be transported to local hospital for service. HELLO!!! Mineral Wells is located in Parker County...GET OVER IT! The city of MW and the county of Parker will prosper with this. Are you envious of Weatherford? "Inhumane treatment of inmates." First of all, they are not “inmates” serving time for some sort of criminal conviction. They are in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and are charged administratively as such, not criminally. ICE does not punish people with jail time for violating the INA. In cases where ICE prosecutes violators of the Federal Criminal Code, the detainees are turned over to the United States Marshal Service and serve their time with the United States Bureau of Prisons. They are being detained by ICE because they are a flight risk, they can't afford the bond placed, or they have been determined by ICE to not be eligible for a bond or relief and are classified as “mandatory detention.” So let us call them "detainees." There will be instances where civil rights and civil liberties are violated at any given facility housing hundreds to thousands of people. We are all human and subject to errors. But, to go off and label this company, Emerald, as some sort of water boarding, torture camp is irresponsible and torpid. Sewer and water???? There is more than enough. Again, you are misinformed. You need to do more research without being bias! Thank you very much, Whoever

This is a great oppurtunity to improve MW's economic standings. The prison industry offers a long term steady employment oppurtunity for several individuals with jobs ranging from security to education and programs. As far as traffic from visitors goes, that is all the more reason to open the prison as the visitors will bring revenue to the city. I believe this is what MW needs.