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June 2011

Sexual Assault Charges, Contract Changes Hit MTC's "Tent City"

MTC's Tent City
MTC's Tent City
Late last week, the Department of Justice formally charged a former Management and Training Corporation guard at the company's notorious "Tent City" detention center in Willacy County with sexual assault of a detained woman.  Ending years of rumors about sexual assault at the facility, the DOJ issued a press release about the charges:

" The Justice Department today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Contract Security Officer Edwin Rodriguez, 31, of Raymondville, Texas, with sexual abuse of a female Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainee who was under his supervision at the Willacy Detention Center, a federally contracted detention facility in Raymondville, Texas. 

JPI Report on Private Prison Companies Using Politics

The Justice Policy Institue released a report earlier this week entitled Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies that highlights the politics for profit prison compannies use to maximize their bottom line. 

The report features our Bob Libal who is quoted as saying,

“In the South and Southwest, the private prison industry has consistently targeted poor communities,” said Bob Libal the Texas Campaigns Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership. “We believe that it’s important to fight, particularly in these communities, to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention, and ultimately build lasting movements for social justice. This important report helps shed light onto this particularly troubling industry.”

You can download the report here.


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Immigrants for Sale: The Private Prison Industry & Immigration

Immigrants for Sale is a new website that is dedicated to exposing the links between the private prison industry and anti-immigrant laws.  They launched a few months ago with this video, which is well worth a watch.


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Former BOP director hired by Corrections Corporation of America

Hat tip t

Harley Lappin
Harley Lappin
o the Private Corrections Working Group who first alerted me to this story.  In a story reminiscent to that of Stacia Hylton - the former US Marshals contracting officer turned GEO Group lobbyist turned US Marshals director - immediate past Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director Harley Lappin has been hired by Corrections Corporation of America as an executive vice president and "chief corrections officer."   

Lappin retired just last month from the BOP after it was revealed that he had been arrested for drunken and reckless driving.  PCWG sums up the problem with the private prison revolving door in their press release:

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Trouble private prison featured in NPR story put on auction block

Littlefield's troubled Bill Clayton Detention Center in west Texas, featured last month in an NPR expose about the problems with speculative private prison building, is now, literally, on the auction block

According to a press release this morning on Business Wire ("Williams & Williams to Auction Medium Security Detention Center in Littlefield, TX On July 28th," June 7)

A unique opportunity to acquire a turn-key medium security detention center will be offered when Williams & Williams Marketing Services, Inc. auctions the Littlefield, TX-based Bill Clayton Detention Center on July 28th at 11 am CDT. Offered in cooperation with Coldwell Banker Commercial Rick Canup Realtors, the property will sell to the highest bidder above the opening bid of $5,000,000. Interested buyers can bid on site or live from anywhere via

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GEO guards picket at South Texas Detention Center

The GEO Group's South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall was hit with protests by guards at the facility last week.  According to KSAT's coverage ("Pearsall Prison Guards Stage Picket," May 26), about 25 prison guards picketed the facility:

Many of [the protestors] are members of Local 304, a labor union which represents some prison guards and police officers.

"This is not a strike. It's a picket," said Officer Tim Stone, a spokesman for the group. "We have not had a (significant) raise in six years and we feel we deserve one."

Stone, however, did say his employer has given workers a 50 cent per hour cost of living increase on occasion.  In the latest contract being negotiated, Stone said, there is no wage increase at all.

Similar labor tensions have occurred in the past, with GEO narrowly averting a strike two years ago at the same facility.