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August 2009

Sherman's Fight Against Proposed Private Prison

From a story I wrote at Private Prison Watch, the city of Sherman, TX in Grayson County has been entrenched in an ongoing battle against a proposed for-profit prison and an irresponsible construction scheme for years. Just recently, the city commissioners met again last Monday to discuss a land deal for the new prison -- before even signing a contract with a prison operating company! However, the county remains at a stalemate, as commissioners take the public opposition into consideration. All-in-all, it will cost the county $33 million to contract the construction and maintenance to LaSalle Corrections, when it would only cost $31 million to rennovate and expand the existing Sherman jail. Perhaps cost is not the only issue.

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Fitch downgrades Littlefield's bond rating after Idaho removes prisoners from GEO lock-up

In a fascinating and disturbing example of what can go wrong when a locality finances a speculative prison, the Fitch ratings agency has downgraded the City of Littlefield's bond rating after the city's GEO-operated Bill Clayton Detention Center lost its contract to hold Idaho prisoners, and has subsequently been dumped by the private prison corporation. 

According the Ad Hoc News article ("Littlefield, - Fitch Downgrades Littlefield, TX' COs to 'BB'; Outlook Negative," August 24th)

ICE: Hutto to stop detaining families; no new family detention centers

It's all the news today; CCA's notorious T. Don Hutto detention center will stop holding immigrant families.  According to the New York Times ("U.S. to Reform Policy on Detention for Immigrants," August 6th)

"[T]he government will stop sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison near Austin, Tex., that drew an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and scathing news coverage for putting young children behind razor wire. ...

The decision to stop sending families there - and to set aside plans for three new family detention centers - is the Obama administration's clearest departure from its predecessor's immigration enforcement policies."

Although the facility will continue to hold immigrant women, this is a huge victory for the movement to end family detention as it substantially shrinks the immigrant family detention system, and takes the new family detention centers off the table.  We'll have more updates in the coming days, but in the meantime check out the T. Don Hutto blog or these sources:

"Just-Unveiled Immigration Detention Policies Are Excellent First Step," Women's Refugee Commission, August 6th

"Hutto detention center to change direction," Austin American-Statesman, August 6th

Texas Southern's private prison conference this week

Texas Southern University's Barbara Jordan Institute's long-awaited conference on the private prison industry will be held later this week, Thursday, August 6th, through Saturday, August 8th.  Confirmed conference speakers include: 

Judy Greene, Justice Strategies and Texas Prison Bid'ness founder

Si Kahn, Grassroots Leadership

Byron Price, Texas Southern University and conference planner

Stephen Nathan, Prison Privatisation Report International

Allen M. Hornblum, PA. Crime Commission 

Jeffrey Ian Ros, University of Baltimore 

I'll be presenting a paper on organizing against family detention and the notorious T. Don Hutto detention center.  Texas Prison Bid'ness bloggers Andrew Strong and Nick Hudson will be present.  For a complete schedule or to register, visit the Barbara Jordan Institute website or email Byron Price.