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July 2011

Bill Clayton Detention Center hits auction block tomorrow

UPDATE, July 28, 11:50am: Former Texas Prison Bid'ness blogger and current Texas Tech law student Andrew Strong attended today's auction and the facility was sold apparently for $6 million to an unknown, online bidder.  More info as we get it. 

The troubled Bill Clayton Detention Center goes on the auction block today at 11am central time. 

I just wrote a piece over at Grassroots Leadership's new organizational blog. As we've reported before Littlefield has been paying back loans it floated to build the prison facility well before its closure in 2008. That year, the state of Idaho pulled its prisoners from the facility, then operated by GEO Group, after the suicide of Randall McCullough, who, according to news reports, had spent more than a year in solitary confinement. GEO was later hit with a massive lawsuit over in the McCullough case.

Since the facility's closure, Littlefield has had its bond ratings dropped and turned to two different private prison companies in an effort to fill the prison beds.  One has to wonder why, given this history, a different owner would be more successful in turning this "turn-key detention center" into a financial success.

I'll also be attempting to live tweet the auction (using @Grassroots_News) if I can get access to the auction online (still working on it).  We'll provide you details as they come. 

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Jones County prison sits empty at a cost of $35 Million

A prison in Jones County built by Community Education Centers for $35 million in local revenue bonds sits empty according to a new story at KTXS ("New Detention Center in Jones County Awaits Inmates," July 15).

County officials have said that they hope to fill the prison with state prisoners even though the state state has adopted various policy reforms (PDF) that have lessened the demand for state prison capacity.  The story is a little murky here -- we will do some digging to see if we can follow the money. From this report ("Jones County officials await word from the state on detention facility funding," Abilene Reporter-News, May 23), it appears that even though policies were adopted to lessen the need for prison space, state authorities were assuming the need for expansion:

"The state approved a contract for the prison to be built in Jones County in 2008. Revenue bonds were approved by the county to pay for construction, which began in May 2009."

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ALEC Exposed Wiki releases previously restricted documents

I was recently alerted to the ALEC Exposed Wiki which is an amazing resource for all things about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) including materials that were restricted to non members for years.  We have recently reported on ALEC's connections in Texas.

Folks have been suspecting for a long time now that ALEC's influence has a correlation to expanding prison privatization.  Part of the organization's mission is to:

advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.

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LCS' Coastal Bend Detention Center fails TCJS inspection again

The Coastal Bend Detention Center, the flagship facility of private prison company LCS Corrections, has failed its Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspection yet again.  According to the TCJS report, which is attached to this post, the facility has a number of deficiencies including a jailer without a license, that staff were exceeding time intervals for direct supervision of prisoners under observation, and that:

"A review of shift rosters and attendance logs revealed that The Coastal Bend Detention Center consistently did not have a sufficient number of jailers assigned to inmate housing areas to meet the mandated 1 officer to 48 inmate's ratio and provide for direct inmate supervision." 

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Trial set in wrongful death suit against LCS' Brooks County Detention Center

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wrongful death suit by the family of Mario Garcia against LCS Corrections' Brooks County Detention Center in Falfurrias, Texas will be going to trial in February, according to a new report from Andy Lizcano at KZTV ("Brooks Cty Dead Inmate Lawsuit," July 8):

"His family is suing the jail and some of it's officials. Kathy Snapka represents Garcia's family. 'It is our allegation that the prison disregarded his very, very serious medical condition and that's why days after he was sent to Brooks County he died,' she said.  ...

According to the lawsuit, Garcia had a known seizure disorder and was on medication for it. And that he suffered from seizures and headaches while in jail. It also says jail officials 'breached their duty of care to Garcia by ailing to care for his medical needs.

The Brooks County Death Certificate lists Garcia's cause of death as seizure disorder. The nueces county medical examiner's autopsy says the same thing.

The defendants in the case are LCS Correction Services, which owns the jail, former jail warden Miguel Niderhauser, and Dr. Michael Pendleton, former head of the jail's medical staff.

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Protestors to Wells Fargo: Divest from GEO Group!

On Friday, I joined a protest by Texans United for Families against Wells Fargo's investment in private prison corporation GEO Group.  The protests, part of a larger private prison divestment campaign initiated by immigrant and worker rights organization Enlace, took place in more than 13 cities aroun

d the country including in Tennessee, Florida, Colorado, and other locations. 

Wells Fargo is one of the largest institutional investors in GEO Group, holding more than 3.5 million shares or $92 million dollars in the private prison corporation.  Protestors are particularly critical of GEO Group's lobbying and role in building new immigrant detention centers, including the a new prison in Karnes County, Texas

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