Problems and Scandals in Texas' Private Prisons: 2006 to present

Scandals in Texas’ private prisons are often covered briefly in newspapers, then quickly forgotten. Here’s a sampling of recent problems and scandals reported in Texas media from 2006 and 2007. If you think we’ve missed any recent news stories, please contact us.

Bill Clayton Detention Center (Littlefield, TX) -- GEO Group (formerly CSC)

  • A brief riot involving 39 Wyoming prisoners was suppressed with OC spray. Prisoners and staff were treated with first aid, there was unspecified property damage and a lockdown (2006)
  • You may also want to see their previous problems on our 2000-2005 page

Bowie County Correctional Center

  • A CiviGenics guard at the Bowie County Correctional Center annex was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle marijuana, tobacco and cigars into the jail (2007)

Coke County Juvenile Detention Center Geo Group

  • A prison staffer was fired after the Texas Youth Commission learned he has a previous conviction for exposing himself to a child (while a juvenile). He maintained that he revealed the conviction during the hiring process. (2007)

Dickens County Correctional Facility (Spur, TX) -- Bobby Ross Group

  • An Idaho prisoner, Scot Noble Payne, escaped from the prison. Prison officials said Payne, who was serving time for aggravated battery and lewd and lascivious conduct, scaled the prison's fence. He fled when temperatures were in the mid-20s, apparently without any extra clothing. (2006)
  • A former guard was convicted of providing contraband to a prisoner and sentenced to five years of probation, $1,000 fine and 120 hours of community service. He was using the prisoner as an intermediary to sell contraband to other prisoners and may have been involved in the escape of Scot Noble Payne. (2007)
  • Dickens had problems in the 1990s you can read on the 1990s Scandals page

East Hidalgo Detention Center (La Villa, TX) -- LSC

  • Five undocumented immigrants and a former police officer escaped from the privately run South Texas jail. The escapees were alleged members of the drug gang Raza Unida charged with drug trafficking crimes (2006).
  • The facility was repeatedly found in noncompliance with state standards. An inspection conducted eight days after six prisoners escaped cited the prison for employing too few guards, adding an unauthorized number of bunks, and keeping unlicensed guards on the payroll. (2006)
  • A prison guard and two other people were arrested for aiding in the escape of six prisoners from the facility (2006).
  • An 18-year-old guard overseeing the six prisoners who escaped from the correctional facility had been on the job less than three months and had not yet undergone a training course mandated for Texas jailers. The guard reported being overpowered by inmates. (2006)

Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility (Mineral Wells, TX) -- Corrections Corporation of America

  • Two 21-year-old prisoners escaped and were missing for six hours before being spotted by helicopter less than five miles from the prison (2007)

South South Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility (Houston, TX) -- GEO Group

  • A prisoner who had served most of his two-year sentence for unathorized use of a motor vehicle escaped (2007)

T. Don Hutto (Taylor, TX) -- Corrections Corporation of America

  • A lawsuit documented restrictive settings for children, including inadequate school hours, poor nutrition, and threats to separate the children from their parents for misbehavior. (2007)
  • A CCA staffer was fired within days of “inappropriate contact" with a prisoner (2007)

Val Verde Correctional Facility and County Jail (Del Rio, TX) -- GEO Group

  • Two employees arrested: one for burglarizing a neighbor's home and the other for sneaking a bottle of cheap wine and love letters under the fence of the jail. Both faced felony charges and wound up in the privately-run county jail following their arrest. (2007)

Webb County Detention Center (Laredo, TX) -- Corrections Corporation of America

  • A guard was charged with trying to hire someone to kill her CCA supervisor and with delivering fake cocaine (to a man not identified by prosecutors) (2007).

Willacy County State Jail (Raymondville, TX) -- Wackenhut/Geo Group

  • The family of a local man killed at a prison run by Wackenhut was awarded $47.5 million by a Willacy County jury. The prisoner was beaten to death four days prior to completing his sentence (2006).
  • Willacy is also featured in 2000-2005 problems and scandals page

This information was compiled by Nicole Porter and Kathleen Pequeño in 2007 from media reports, and is updated regularly.