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December 2009

2009 Top Private Prison Stories, #1 Family detention ends at T. Don Hutto

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons.

The end of family detention at Hutto was TPB's biggest story of 2009. 

 #1 Family detention ends at CCA's T. Don Hutto detention center

By the beginning of 2009, perhaps no private prison in the country had become as controversial as Corrections Corporation of America's T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor, Texas.  The former medium-security prison was converted into a family detention center in 2006, and had been the site of dozens of vigils, a major lawsuit, two critical documentary films, intense media scrutiny, and a national movement to end family detention. 

So, when the government decided to stop sending immigrant families to Hutto, it was big news. The New York Times lead with this line on 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."

2009 Top Private Prison Stories, #2 - Protests of conditions at GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons.

This is the second biggest story of 2009. 

#2 Protests and riots at the GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center

2009 started out with second riot at GEO's Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas by prisoners angered at multiple deaths and a lack of medical care at the facility.  By year's end, nine immigrant prisoners had died in the facility in the last four years. The riots could cost the county, which owns the facility over $1 million in repair costs.  In the wake of the riots, the ACLU of Texas requested a Department of Justice review of the facility, and attorney Juan Angel Guerra was denied access to clients in Pecos.

2009 Top Private Prison Stories, #3 Private prison proposals defeated in Texas communities

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons.

While the private prison industry continues to grow, several Texas communities said no to private prison sitings in Texas this year. This is the third biggest TPB story of 2009. 

 #3 Private prison proposals defeated in Texas communities

1. Emerald pushes Mineral Wells detention center three times in 2009... 

2009 Year in Review - Top Private Prison Stories, #4 Small Companies, Big Scandals

Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top six stories related to private prisons.  This is the fourth biggest story of the year. 

#4 - Small Companies, Big Scandals

Some of the smaller private prison corporations had the biggest controversies in 2009.  From debates over CEC's payments to the McLennan County Sheriff to LCS's flagship failure and big problems at Southwestern Correctional, it's been a tough year for the small private prison companies. 

2009 Year in Review - Top Private Prison Stories, #5 The 81st Legislative Session ends without increased oversight

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons. 

We would like to thank the loyal and casual readers who gather their information from our website. We have great plans for 2010, including a new interactive Texas map that has information on each private prison facility and we are looking into the plausibility of branching out in to video podcasting. We would like to wish all our readers a happy new year in 2010, and good fortune in the days to come.

-- Judy, Bob, Nick, Nicole, and Andrew

#5 - The 81st Legislative Session ends without increased oversight of private lock-ups

Despite several bills filed that would have provided some much-needed oversight to the private jail and detention systems in Texas, the 81st legislative session ended without much in the way of increased accountability of the private prison industry.  We chronicled the role that private prison lobbyists most likely played in killing a number of these bills.  Here's the run-down.  

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LCS's Coastal Bend Detention Center Moved to "At-Risk" Status

The Coastal Bend Detention Center, LCS Corrections' so-called "flagship facility," will be under extreme scrutiny over the next 90 days following a failed inspection and the unauthorized release of an inmate because of mistaken identity, which went unknown for three weeks. LCS hired Alberto Bravo as a new warden shortly before the failed inspection in hopes of changing the facility for the better and improving their standards. Bravo's work temporarily paid off as they passed their second round of inspections. However, shortly after passing the second inspection, they mistakenly released an inmate and did not realize what had happened for three weeks prior to the "escape."

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Coastal Bend Detention Center Inmate "Escapes", Unknown for 3 Weeks

The LCS Corrections-operated Coastal Bend Detention Center in Robstown, TX has been in the public eye recently. After initially failing their first jail standards inspection, the facility, equipped with a brand new Warden, passed their second inspection with the commendation of Adan Muñozthe Texas Commission on Jail Standards director. However, the CBDC is not out of the woods yet.

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NPR's "Fresh Air" interviews Tom Barry on the growing private immigrant prison system

I received a flurry of text messages yesterday afternoon telling me to tune in to National Public Radio's Fresh Air ("Questions On Public-Private Prisons For Immigrants," December 10) interview with Tom Barry yesterday on the growing immigrant incarceration system.  Barry's most recent article in the Boston Review and  covered ongoing problems at GEO's Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, the subject of human rights protests this week. The interview is well worth a listen, and touches on many of the issues we cover here at Texas Prison Bid'ness. 

 

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Protests of Reeves County Detention Center and GEO offices planned

Protests are being planned next week for International Human Rights Day condemning human rights abuses against immigrants incarcerated at GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas.  The protests are being organized Grassroots Leadership, the ACLU of Texas, the Southwest Workers Union, and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The organizations have launched a new website to chronicle the ongoing troubles at Reeves.

At least nine prisoner deaths in the last four years have been reported at Reeves and the facility was home to two major prisoner uprisings last year.  Prisoners held at Reeves are segregated based on their immigration status.  Many, including several who have died, have served 5 or 10 year sentences for immigration violations.

Two actions are being planned. 

1) International Human Rights Day at GEO in New Braunfels
Thursday, December 10, 12pm-1pm
GEO Offices, 1583 Common Street, New Braunfels, TX
Austin carpool and RSVP: blibal@grassrootsleadership.org

2) March and Vigil at the Reeves County Detention Center
Saturday, December 12, 11a.m.
Reeves County Courthouse,
100 E. 4th Street, Pecos, TX

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Emerald targets Mineral Wells for "ICE detention center" for third time

Emerald Corrections has come back to the city of Mineral Wells for a third time in an attempt to construct a 500-1000 bed speculative detention center.  This time, on a divided vote, the city council approved negotiations with the prison company.  According to the Mineral Wells Index ("Emerald receptive to negotiations," December 3),

The project to bring an immigration detention facility to Mineral Wells began moving ahead again Wednesday after the city council gave the go ahead Tuesday night.

Less than two months after the same agenda item failed for lack of support, the city council approved a resolution Tuesday night authorizing the Mineral Wells Local Government Corporation to continue negotiations with Emerald Correctional Management to build a detention facility in Mineral Wells.

Steve Butcher of the Industrial Foundation told the Index Wednesday afternoon the project seems to be moving ahead again.

As we've reported, Emerald has been rebuffed in Mineral Wells twice.  Locals were concerned about the placement of the first proposed facility near a business district, and then balked at Emerald asking the city to finance a prison the second time.  At that time, not two months ago, Emerald had this to say:

“That’s a pretty clear message that the city council has no interest in doing this project,” Steve Afeman, chief operating officer of Emerald, said Wednesday morning. “We’re not about to go back.”

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