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McAllen Residents, Newspaper Come Out Against New Private Prison in McAllen

Last week, a public hearing in McAllen allowed citizens to ask questions about a proposed 1,000 bed private prisons to city commissioners, mayor Jim Darling and city manager Mike Perez.    

According to the McAllen Monitor ("At Forum, Crowd Overwhelmingly Opposes McAllen's Private Jail Project," September 11), Florida-based GEO Group put in the only bid to run the proposed facility. Citizens raised concerns regarding the company's previous human rights violations in facilities around the country. The majority of the 60 people in attendance asserted that privatization of prisons allows for mistreatment and misconduct. Previous lawsuits filed against GEO Group pertain to sexual harassment of female employees and prisoner neglect and mistreatment

In addition, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined GEO Group $104,000, testified Astrid Dominguez who represented the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. "Handing control of prisons over to for-profit companies is a recipe for abuse, neglect and misconduct," Dominguez said at the hearing. 

Over the weekend, The McAllen Monitor published an editorial ("Private jail in McAllen questioned," September 15th) raising serious questions about the proposed facility. The Monitor expressed concern about the GEO Group's civil and human rights violations ,as well as the facility's cost to taxpayers, claiming that private prisons have cost other Texas communities millions of dollars. 

McAllen is the proposed location because the U.S. Marshals Service allegedly needs a facility in close proximity to federal courts.  It appears that McAllen residents may not be convinced that profiting from prisoners is an ethical course of action.