February 2009

Contract Trouble for LCS Corrections Nueces County Detention Center

LCS Corrections will lay off some workers at its Robstown prison because of problems securing a federal contract for prisoners at the facility, according to an article in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (LCS facility to lose 35 officers, January 24),

To start the intake of federal prisoners from agencies such as the U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol, LCS needs Nueces County to sign an agreement with marshals that will outline how much the federal government will pay for housing their prisoners. Congress also must pass a 2009 budget, which should occur when a continuing resolution allowing the federal government to operate under its 2008 budget expires in early March.

The prison company intends to rehire the laid-off employees and hire additional staff once prisoners start arriving, Harbison said.

Nueces County spent millions to clean up its jail's substandard conditions that led to the June 2006 removal of federal prisoners. The federal inmates haven't returned. County officials have been negotiating since January 2008 for a higher fee to house them at the jail. The contract also will include fees for housing federal prisoners at two LCS facilities.

Because the federal government doesn't deal with private detention contractors, LCS is dependent on a "pass through" contract, where the county gets a share of fees charged per prisoner for passing through overflow federal prisoners to the company's private facilities in Hidalgo County and Robstown.

The article doesn't mention whether Nueces County floated bonds to pay for the construction of the prison and my cursory search can't find a record of bonds.  See also, Forrest Wilder's coverage in the Texas Observer of the LCS's record of failing federal inspections.

Also check out our previous coverage on LCS Corrections:

Inmate Dies at LCS Brooks County Detention Center

LCS Moves to Ease Community Concerns Over Nueces Prison

LCS Opening 1,100 Bed Prison in Nueces County

A Closer Look at LCS Corrections

New LCS Prison Will Increase Environmental Hazard

Private Prison Company Adds Water Quality Concerns

Nacogdoches Prison Opposition to Petition to Change City Charter

In a story that could have broader implications about strategies of citizen groups to control the construction of prisons in their communities, a controversial proposed MTC federal prison may be challenged by a citizen petition effort, according to a story in the Daily Sentinal ("Group fighting private prison wants to amend city charter," January 19),

Around 40 people attended a Citizens Opposed to the Prison Site (COPS) meeting Monday, and the group's founder, Dr. Paul Risk, said the organization is moving forward with a petition that could change the city charter.

Risk introduced a petition that would put an amendment on the ballot in May that would require the city of Nacogdoches to provide for initiatives or referenda in its charter. Five percent of registered Nacogdoches voters, or about 850 people, would need to sign the petition requesting the amendment, Risk said. If approved, the citizens of Nacogdoches could vote down or uphold decisions made by the city commissioners.

See our previous coverage of the private prison controversy in Nacogdoches:

 

GEO's Reeves County Detention Center on Fire Again

The GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center caught on fire again earlier today, according to a story on KWES ("Fire out at Reeves County Detention Center," February 5).  

A fire that erupted at the Reeves County Detention Center is out, but still smoldering.

The fire started Thursday morning in a recreational facility at RCDC. It is believed the recreation facility is part of building II. NewsWest9's Victor Lopez reports that the fire is out and fire crews were still on the scene. Some smaller fires started in a yard at the prison were also out.

Prisoners started rioting at the facility this past weekend. Inmates and family members of inmates have told NewsWest9 they are demanding better healthcare. At that time, three inmates were hurt, but those injuries were described as minor.

The fire started Thursday morning in a recreational facility at RCDC. It is believed the recreation facility is part of building II. NewsWest9's Victor Lopez reports that the fire is out and fire crews were still on the scene. Some smaller fires started in a yard at the prison were also out. 

The facility suffered significant damage and three inmates were injured last weekend when a major disturbance rocked the facility, the second in as many months. According to multiple sources, prisoners rioted in protest of poor medical care and reported deaths at the facility.  In the fallout of from the riot, 20 swat officers were called in twice earlier this week ("Swat officers enter W. Texas prison, Houston Chronicle, February 4). We'll keep you posted on the latest from Reeves County.

Update: Univision is apparently reporting that State Senator Uresti is headed to Pecos to invistigate. 

Update II: Check out Tom Barry's interesting post Prison Dreams in Pecos over at the Border Lines Blog.

Second Riot in 2 Months at GEO's Reeves County Detention Center Leaves Injuries, Significant Damage

The second major riot in two months has left significant damage at the GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center, according to a story by the Associated Press ("Company says Texas prison's damage 'significant,'" February 3),

The company that runs a federal prison in West Texas says "significant" damage from the second riot in less than two months has left the facility unable to resume normal operations.

The GEO Group Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that inmates in two of the Reeves County Detention Center's three units remain under staff view in a central area of the complex. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company says inmates remain "cooperative and compliant" after a riot that started Saturday afternoon.

The company says there have been no serious injuries to staff or inmates.

However, CNN ("Texas riot quelled, inmates damage buildings" February 1) claims that there were at least three inmate hospitalizations, including an inmate with a severed fingers.  The prisoners are apparently protesting for better medical care, according to an AP video story with some dramatic footage ("Company Says Riot at Private Texas Prisons" February 2).  The December riot was based on similar problems with medical care, including the mysterious death of an inmate. 

Some reports from advocates monitoring the situation have indicated that man prisoners have been moved to the Emerald facility in Sierra Blanca.  In addition, the National Network for Immigrant Rights has posted a call to action to defend the rights of the immigrants held at the facility on their blog.