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KSAT reports: "Privately run prisons profit from detainees"

San Antonio's KSAT reported on the prevalence of private prisons in Texas, particularly in South Texas ("Privately rin prisons profit from detainees," 5/1/14). 

According to the report, over 12,000 people will spend the night in cells at private prisons. There are at least 50 private prisons all over Texas, which incarcerate people for profit. This business model has grown into a $1 billion industry. 

"In south Texas you see one of the greatest concentrations of for-profit prisons of anywhere in the country," according to Grassroots Leadership's Bob Libal.  He continued, "For private prison corporations, every person that's in prison is a dollar sign. Rehabilitation is bad for business; a shrinking prison population hurts the bottom line." 

In 2012, humanrightsfirst.org published a study which indicated that the average per diem cost for one incarcerated person is $164, or $5,000 per month. The company that has the most stake in the private prison industry on the local level is the GEO Group. GEO was initially silent when KSAT contacted them for comment, but the company has since responded

GEO operates many of the large prisons and detention centers in South Texas, including the Central Texas Detention Facility in San Antonio with 688 beds, as well as the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall with 1,904 beds. Pearsall is estimated to make $9 million per month, or $114 million per year. 

Christy, a former GEO employee who worked at Pearsall for two years, is critical of GEO: "It’s all about the money. It not only puts their life at stake, the detainees, but it puts our life at stake too." Christy still has her GEO uniform and ID. She was allegedly fired for being a "bad officer" only after she filed a sexual harassment claim against another officer. She has also allegedly observed the company's habit of cutting corners on equipment, lack of staff, and lack of reports filed regarding violence among incarcerated persons at the facility.

 "GEO would be a good company if they would follow their policies and their regulations," Christy said. 

Christy was unwilling to speak on camera because she fears the GEO Group.