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January 2015

The GEO Group acquires LCS Corrections, expanding their reach in Texas

The GEO Group is set to acquire a smaller corrections corporation, LCS Corrections. The merger could cost GEO up to $350 million dollars—borrowed from their $700 million revolving line of credit—and will add eight new facilities, and 6,500 new beds to GEO’s existing 79,000 bed capacity.

GEO is looking forward to an estimated $75-80 million extra in annual revenue. On LCS's end, the deal will bail them out of nearly $302 million in debt. The deal will reportedly be finalized by the end of this February. 

A Louisiana based company, LCS, while small in comparison, is no stranger to GEO-sized gaffes and scandals. LCS has a long history of not taking proper care of the people in their facilities, racking up a number of wrongful death and corruption suits. Most recently, a former LCS warden was indicted for attempting to bribe a Justice of the Peace in Texas.

The acquisition will expand GEO Group's reach in Texas, where LCS Corrections currently operates the Brooks County Detention Center, the East Hildago Detention Center, and the Coastal Bend Detention Center. 

Former Texas private prison warden arrested in bribery scandal

The former warden of the privately operated East Hidalgo Detention Center, Elberto E. Bravo, was arrested last Friday in a complex bribery scandal. According to local reports, Bravo participated in a scheme to bribe former Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Melo Ochoa to lower the bond for a Mexican drug trafficker, Luis Martinez-Gallegos . 

Private prison operator LCS Corrections removed Bravo from his post as warden in February 2012 amid a federal investigation, but it is unclear if it is related to this case. 

The complex case began when Martinez-Gallegos was stopped by Hidalgo County law enforcement officers and arrested for possession of 89 kilograms of cocaine in his vehicle. 

According to Breitbart Texas, "Bravo, another woman, and a local attorney worked to get Martinez’s bond lowered so that federal authorities could deport him before the case went federal, the criminal complaint shows."

Ochoa took the cash and decreased the bond from $2.5 million to $50,000. Martinez-Gallegos was subsequently released and deported. What did former private prison warden Bravo have to gain from deporting a drug trafficker? That remains a mystery.

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Welcoming new Texas Prison Bidness blogger Holly Kirby

Holly Kirby
Holly Kirby
Texas Prison Bid'ness is happy to welcome new blogger Holly Kirby to our line-up. Holly is the Criminal Justice Organizer at Grassroots Leadership, one of the sponsors of Texas Prison Bid'ness.
Holly Kirby is a criminal justice organizer with Grassroots Leadership. Originally from Jacksonville, Arkansas, Holly graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2009 with a B.A. in Sociology and minor in Cultural Anthropology. In 2011, she moved to Austin to pursue a Masters of Science in Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. Through the school of social work, Holly landed an internship with Grassroots Leadership and was hired as a full-time organizer shortly after she graduated. As the coordinator of the Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign, she has authored two major reports examining the interstate transfer of state prisoners to private, for-profit prisons and supports state advocates to prevent and end this practice, fight for sustainable solutions to over-incarceration, and bring prisoners home.
Holly’s work and writing on this issue have been featured in Al Jazeera America, Salon.com, The Week, Business Insider, and Truthout.