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February 2015

Prisoners transferred, county government S&P rating downgraded in the wake of uprising at Willacy County

Prisoners at a "criminal alien requirement" (CAR) prison in Willacy County recently protested conditions and medical care at the facility. The prisoners began protesting by refusing breakfast, but then escalated to setting fire to several of the kevlar tents that make up the housing units. Currently, the 2,900 prisoners have begun to be transferred to other Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities throughout the country. 

Management and Training Corporation, the private corporation that runs the facility, has refused to comment on where the prisoners are being moved, citing safety and security as the main reason for the secrecy. The uprising was not surprising to many advocates of prison and immigration reform. An ACLU report released last year detailed squalid conditions, rampant abuse, and little to no medical care at the facility.

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Immigrant prisoner uprising at Willacy County CAR prison

Last week, up to 2,000 immigrant prisoners staged a two-day riot at a private prison in Raymondville, TX. According to a report by DemocracyNow!, the prisoners were protesting inadequate medical care when they refused to eat breakfast on February 20, seized control of part of the prison, and set fires.

The prison, Willacy County Correctional Center, is owned and operated by the private prison company Management & Training Corporation (MTC), and is known by critics as "Ritmo" — short for Raymondville’s Guantánamo prison. It is also referred to as “tent city” because the majority of the prisoners sleep in large, cramped kevlar tents.

Willacy County Correctional Center

The Raymondville prison is also one of 13 privately operated CAR or “Criminal Alien Requirement” prisons. Carl Takei, staff attorney with the ACLU’s national prison project explained:

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Welcoming new TBP blogger, Marlon C. Saucedo

 

Texas Prison Bid’ness is pleased to welcome Marlon C. Saucedo as a new blogger.

 

Marlon C. Saucedo
Marlon C. Saucedo
Most recently, Marlon has been working with the University Leadership Initiative (ULI) at the University of Texas in organizing actions against the incarceration of immigrants and has participated in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinics. Marlon has also been working in ULI's TX Tuition Equity campaign, which advocates against recently introduced state bills that would revoke in-state tuition for undocumented Texan students.

 

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, Marlon is currently a Journalist and Radio/Television/Film student at the University of Texas in Austin. As an undocumented student, Marlon has first-hand experience of the injustice of the immigration and detention systems.

 

Texas private prisons take center stage at U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearings

At the end of January, I was invited to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about abuses in U.S. immigrant detention system.  My testimony was part of a day full of panels on civil rights violations in immigrant detention centers.  I was joined by fellow Texans Marisa Bono from MALDEF and Sister Norma Pimental, a leader in the refugee relief effort in the Rio Grande Valley this summer. National advocates from the ACLU, National Immigrant Justice Center, and Human Rights Campaign along with government officials joined the panels.
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Former guard at Jack Harwell pleads guilty to improper sexual relationship with inmate

A former guard at the Jack Harwell Detention Center, Melissa Corona, has pled guilty to charges of sexual misconduct with one of the inmates. Ms. Corona was indicted in March 2014, after allegations that she began a relationship with a male inmate in 2013 by kissing him more than 10 times.

Ms. Corona was the fifth person to be arrested in 2013 after an investigation into improprieties between staff and inmates. Three other female guards were arrested on charges of sexual misconduct, and a male guard was charged with bringing contraband into the facility.