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August 2013

Two Corrections Corp. of America Prisons in Texas Will Close This Weekend

Two private prisons contracted by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility and the Dawson State Jail - will close this weekend after their funding was zeroed out during the last legislative session.  

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.  

Dallas Morning News reporter Scott Goldstein toured the facility yesterday and found some haunting messages left on the walls ("Dawson State Jail winds down in final days," August 29):

"The last prisoners this week left the Jesse R. Dawson State Jail along the Trinity River in downtown Dallas.

McLennan County's Jack Harwell lock-up still under-filled as ICE doesn't send detained immigrants to Waco

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.”"

North Texas jail privatization debate moves to Kaufman County

Last week, Ellis Count

y rejected privatization of its jail after opposition from community members and County Sheriff Johnny Brown.  Now, the debate appears to have shifted one county over to Kaufman County where officials are reportedly entertaining offers from the same two private companies - Community Education Centers and LaSalle/Southwestern Corrections - along with a third company, Emerald Corrections to take over that community's 530 bed jail.  

According to the Kaufman Herald ("Privatization plan draws opposition," August 14th), the privatization plan is running into opposition from jail employees and community members:

Ellis County rejects jail privatization

Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown and a group of privatization opponents appear

Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown
 to have had the last word and jail privatization in the County is dead for now.  Here how the Waxahatchie Daily Light's covered the story ("Sheriff stands tall: Brown refuses jail privatization," August 9):

"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.

Ellis County to address jail privatization this Thursday

Ellis County Commi

ssioners will address the issue of jail privatization this Thursday, according to a Facebook post by Commissioner Paul D. Perry.  

As we've reported, Ellis County's jail management evaluation and feasibility committee has received bids from two-companies - Community Education Centers and LaSalle Southeast Corrections.  CEC's bid was rated 65 points out of 100 while LaSalle's received only 53 points out of 100.  

Last week, we posted some things Ellis County should know about top bidder Community Education Centers. The Ellis County Commissioners Court members can be reached online.   

Can Texas Politicians Say No To Private Prison Money?

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."

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