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February 2008

Leonard Residents Defeat Proposed "Faith-based" Private Prison!!!

Good news from Leonard, Texas! Residents have successfully stopped a proposed "faith-based" private prison from being built in the small Fannin County community. While the rehabilitative motives of Corrections Concepts Inc, the private prison corporation, may have been be noble enough, the fact that this prison was a speculative lock-up (the company was actively searching for prisoners from different agencies to fill it) means that it would have contributed to the problem of too many prison beds in Texas. Texas needs fewer prisons not more.

According to a source in Leonard, over 250 people packed the city council meeting on January 29th to ask CCI's lawyer questions about the prison. Then, the city council voted 5-0 to not enter into an aggreement with CCI, the faith-based private prison company. According to the source, the room exploded in applause for the decision. Read some of our previous coverage of Leonard and CCI:

The organizing effort in Leonard, combined with the recently defeated private detention center in Caldwell County, should show others that fighting private prisons in Texas can be successful. Congratulations to all involved in this effort!

New Blog on Texas Private Immigrant Detention Centers

Renee Feltz and Stokely Baksh, two Masters degree students at Columbia University, have started a new blog on the business of immigrant detention centers in Texas. According to the website, the project

explores the business of immigration detention centers. In recent years, continued debate over undocumented immigrants has seen increased funds to Immigrant and Customs Enforcement under Department of Homeland Security to process and detain such individuals, which in turn has increased business relationships with privatized detention center operators/constructors and local county governments. These relationships have been made possible through contracts and Intergovernmental Service Agreements.

According to one feasibility study analysis for a contract to build a privately operated ICE facility in Texas, the intergovernmental service agreement was “issued as a direct result of intense pressure on ICE to take into custody and deport a substantially larger number of illegal immigrants.”

So far, the sight has covered several stories that Texas Prison Bid'ness readers might find interesting including:

Welcome to the web, Renee and Stokely! We look forward to seeing the project develop.

Welcome to New Texas Prison Bid'ness Blogger Nick Hudson

I wanted to welcome to our newest blogger at Texas Prison Bid'ness, University of Texas student Nick Hudson. I've had the pleasure of working with Nick for the past several years on various private prison campaigns. Nick's a great writer with a eye for data, as demonstrated by his report for Grassroots Leadership, Ground Zero: The Laredo Superjail and the No Action Alternative. Read Nick's bio here.

LBB Says Fewer Prisons Needed

The Statesman reported today that a forthcoming Legislative Budget Board (LBB) report will state that Texas prison growth has slowed resulting in the need for fewer prison beds.

That's the conclusion of a Legislative Budget Board study to be made public Monday. It attributes the slowdown to a decrease in the number of new felons, a slightly increased parole rate, fewer revocations of probation and parole that send violators to prison, and the projected effects of treatment and rehabilitation programs approved by the Legislature last year.

The report predicts that Texas' incarcerated population will average 156,364 this year and rise to 158,470 in 2012.

That is good news. During the 80th Legislature lawmakers authorized the construction of new prison beds pending the approval of the LBB. We continue to be unsure of how many of these beds may be private. We will continue to monitor these developments and increases in private state capacity in Texas.

Previous coverage on the Legislature:

  1. TX Voters Approve Prison Expansion
  2. Interim Charges Focus on Corrections Funding
  3. More Prison Beds on the Way