As we've reported, Mineral Wells was plagued for years with contraband while Dawson was the site of several deaths of women at its facility, persistent complaints of inadequate medical care, protests, and a campaign and report co-authored by Grassroots Leadership (my organization) calling for its closure.
State lawmakers pushed for the closures arguing that the state had extra bed capacity thanks to a declining prison population.
McLennan County is still struggling to fill its speculatively-built Jack Harwell Detention Center, according to an article in the Waco Tribune ("ICE detainees never delivered to county’s jail," August 27) this week:
"McLennan County officials said the 200 detainees U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised to the county’s private jail didn’t come.
Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon said ICE told the county the detainees would be delivered to the Jack Harwell Detention Center on Highway 6 at the end of July, but none arrived.
Harwell warden James Duke said he has offered 300 of the center’s 833 beds to the federal agency, but he doesn’t know when to expect them to be filled.
“The thing with immigration is this facility is only an overflow facility. So basically, we can’t expect (detainees) unless (ICE) needs us for overflow beds, and there’s no way we can predict that,” he said. “Dealing with (ICE), it’s got to be on their time and on their need.”"
"Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown voiced his opposition of privatizing the Wayne McCollum Detention Center in front of a crowd of citizens that packed the gallery during Thursday’s special commissioners court meeting.
The county has been looking at the issue of private jail management for almost a year and received bids for this service from Community Education Centers and LaSalle Corrections.
.... Assistant County and District Attorney Lee Auvenshire recommended to the court that they take no action on this item as it requires the sheriff’s approval.
Auvenshire also recommended the court reject both bids at an upcoming meeting and go out for a request for proposal for using a jail management company for only ICE detainees.
Students at Florida Atlantic University, where GEO Group tried to buy naming rights to the football stadium, have started a campaign to get Florida Democrats to pledge not to accept money from the for-profit prison company. The Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Palm Beach County has put their support behind and released an official statement:
"Whereas, the GEO Group, a private prison contractor headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, has a history of human rights violations and abuses at its detention facilities in the U.S. and abroad, including sexual abuse, negligent deaths, and solitary confinement of minors [...]
Be it resolved, that the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Palm Beach County urges the Florida Democratic Party and Democratic Party elected officials and candidates to not accept any campaign donations from the GEO Group or its business and political affiliates."