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November 2010

Sentence rendered for Hutto guard convicted of groping detained women

In September, we covered a story regarding Donald Charles Dunn, a guard employed by CCA at their T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor, TX who allegedly groped inmates while transporting them. On the 9th of this month, Dunn pleaded guilty to three counts of official oppression and two counts of unlawful restraint, and was sentenced to a year in jail--the maximum sentence for a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas--and two years of probation following his release.

Dunn also agreed to relinquish his private security license and not seek to get it back during his jail term or probation period, Hobbs said.

As part of his job as resident supervisor, Dunn drove men, women and children who were out on bail from the detention center, which is overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, officials said...

...Dunn has not been charged with a crime related to the alleged Travis County incidents, said David Escamilla, the Travis County attorney. Escamilla said he has been waiting to see whether the U.S. attorney's office would charge Dunn with a federal crime related to the allegations.

Daryl Fields, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said an investigation is ongoing.

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Third escape from GEO's Reid Correctional Center

T

he GEO Group's Ben A. Reid Community Correctional Facility in Houston was home to the third escape in two years, according to a report on the Houston Free Press ("Anthony Ray Ferrell, The Good Samaritan Killer: Third Escapee From His Halfway House In 20 Months," November 16).

The man charged with killing a Good Samaritan during a purse-snatching is the third person to escape the same state-contracted halfway house in the last 20 months. Anthony Ray Ferrell had fled a "halfway house in the 10900 block of Beaumont Highway" in October, according to the Houston Chronicle. The home in that block is the Ben A. Reid Community Correctional Facility, from which sex offender Bruce McCain escaped in October 2010 and Richard Williamson Griffin Jr. escaped in February 2009. (McCain was arrested in the Rio Grande Valley three weeks after his escape).

Dawson State Jail's contract renewed for next seven years

Earlier this year, we wondered what would come of the Dawson State Jail's contract in light of the plans for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's plans for budget cuts. As Grits for Breakfast noted earlier in March, 

Dawson State Jail's contract with Corrections Corporation of America is up for renewal next January [2011]. This ill-placed facility is located in downtown Dallas on the banks of the Trinity River in prime real estate the city hopes to redevelop. So the fact that Dawson's contract ends on January 15, 2011 is a significant date for the city of Dallas: If the state renews the contract, the proposed riverfront redevelopment could be put on hold indefinitely. It's possible, then, we may see members of the Dallas delegation and related development interests pushing for non-renewal, though certainly CCA will have its own lobbyists on the other side.

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MTC guard accused of smuggling drugs into Willacy detention center

An employee of the Management and Training Corporation has been been indicted on federal charges that he planned to smuggle cocaine into the company's Willacy County Regional Detention Center in Raymondville (Michael Barajas, "Guard charged with smuggling 4 pounds of cocaine into detention center," Valley Morning Star, November 15)

Austin event: Texas prison system at a crossroads - Where do we go from here?

I'm looking forward to this event tomorrow at the University of Texas' School of Social Work, which will address both privatization and the broader questions about the future of the Texas prison system:  

Citing private prison connections, human rights coalition opposes U.S. Marshals nominee

A coalition of human rights and criminal justice reform groups, including my organization Grassroots Leadership, issued a press release announcing its opposition to the nomination of Stacia Hylton to the head post at the U.S. Marshals.  According to the press release,
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Shooting at GEO's Big Spring FBOP facility

Details are still murky following the shooting of a prisoner at the GEO Group's Big Spring unit in West Texas.  According to a story on CBS 7 News (Greg Sherman, Geo Group Prison Officials Investigating "Incident" at One of their Big Spring Facilities, November 9),

Officials at the Geo Group are investigating a shooting that took place at one of their Big Spring prison facilities.

Geo Group would not comment on what happened, nor would the Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C., but Big Spring Fire Deputy Chief David Armstrong say an inmate was accidentally shot in the arm around 1130 Tuesday morning at the Flightline Facility, which is just south of the airport.

The inmate suffered a gunshot wound to the arm, but Armstrong say the injuries were minor and came from a 12 gauge weapon.  What provoked the shooting or better details on what happened are unknown at this time.

Geo Group, formally known as Cornell Corrections, runs several prison facilities in Big Spring, including Flightline, and houses mostly drug and immigration prisoners.

Texas Jail Project holds benefit on Saturday

The

Texas Jail Project, one of the feistiest criminal justice organizations in Texas, will be holding a benefit on Saturday from 7-10pm at the 3209 Hemlock Avenue, Austin, TX.  Here are the details:

Diane Wilson, an award-winning author and activist, will speak about the history of the Texas Jail Project, her experiences in the Harris and Victoria County Jails, as well as her experience of being arrested in Washington D.C. after disrupting two Senate hearings on the Gulf oil disaster. Diane will also preview her new book, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth, to be published in the spring of 2011. 

Texas State Senator speaks out prison industry's involvement in SB 1070

Following yesterday's story about the prison industry's involvement with the

Eliot Shapleigh
Eliot Shapleigh
creation of SB 1070, Texas State Senator Eliot Shapleigh spoke some strong words against the bill and its creation, claiming that he would resist passing a similar bill in Texas. The Rio Grande Guardian (Steve Taylor, "Shapleigh: Private prison industry involvement in SB 1070 'despicable,'" October 29) reports:

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh says stopping a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 from being passed by the Texas Legislature will mean not only battling against racists but also the private prison industry.

“That the private prison industry writes a bill in secret to profit from an immigrant’s day in jail is despicable. America is better than that."