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November 2016

Ex-Waco jail employee arrested for orchestrating inmate fight

A former Jack Harwell Detention Center employee was arrested last week after being accused of orchestrating a fight between two inmates, reports The Eagle.

Wesley James Gillispie was arrested Wednesday, with the arrest affidavit stating that he misused his authority as an employee at Jack Harwell. Gillispie allegedly gave one inmate access to the housing area of another, who was supposedly “picking on” Gillispie. He gave access for the “sole purpose of having the first inmate assault” the inmate who was “picking on” Gillispie. It is not clear whether Gillispie was fired or resigned, but the detention center has said that he is no longer employed there.

The Jack Harwell Detention Center is a privately run prison that is operated by LaSalle Corrections. The center has a history of sexual assault, lack of institutional control, and poor conditions for immigrants detained there. Jack Harwell was previously owned and operated by Community Education Centers until June 2013.

 

Brazilian national dies in ICE custody

A news release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) states a Brazilian national died on November 25 in a San Antonio hospital while in their custody.  

Wenceslau Esmerio Campos had been detained at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas, which is operated by the for-profit company GEO Group. On November 23 he had chest pains and ICE Health Corp officials took him to the Frio County hospital. A short time later Campos was taken to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio due to his life-threatening condition. Though attempts were made to stabilize him, Campos passed away on November 25. He was 49 years old.

Wenceslau Esmerio Campos is one of three inmates who have died in ICE custody since October 1st of this year following the death of an inmate at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. There have also been over 150 deaths in ICE custody since 2003.

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The banks that finance private prison companies

A new report by In the Public Interest uncovers which Wall Street banks finance the private prison industry's two leaders, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporations of America) and GEO Group.

The report shows that six banks have played a role in financing private prisons. Those six banks are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, and U.S. Bancorp. The following are key findings from the report:

  • At the end of June 2016, CCA had total debts of $1.5 billion and GEO Group had total debts of $1.9 billion.

  • CCA and GEO Group have relied on debt financing from banks to expand their control of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems by acquiring smaller companies that provide “community corrections” services, like residential reentry and electronic monitoring.

ICE bans Crayons at Karnes County Residential Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is restricting young children in an immigrant detention center from playing with crayons, reports the Guardian.   

The restriction comes after staff members at the Karnes County Residential Center accused the children of destruction of property. A spokeswoman for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said the detention center staff enforced the ban after accusing children of damaging a table while their parent received legal advice. In a statement, ICE said that the children caused property damage to the contractor.

Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group, a for-profit prison corporation. Since last November, GEO has made over $57 million from the center, as reported by the San Antonio Current.

A spokesperson from GEO said that crayons were allowed in other sectors of the facility, but not in the visitation area. However, some parents are already noticing the difference in their children from not being able to use crayons during visitation. One 23-year-old detained mother said banning her children from drawing with crayons was already having an adverse effect.

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Immigration agency expands family detention facilities

The San Antonio Express reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently extended the contract at the South Texas Family Residential Camp in Dilley, Texas until 2021.

The detention center in Dilley, which is run by Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), is used to detain Central American mothers and children who are seeking asylum.

This comes as the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, is reviewing whether they should follow the Department of Justice's decision to phase out the use of private prison corporations. "I don’t know what they’re thinking, to be honest with you,” Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program for the Women’s Refugee Commission, said of ICE’s renewal of the Dilley contract.

The new contract, though for the facility in Texas, is actually passed through an existing contract with the city of Eloy, Arizona.  The U.S. government will pay about $13 million a month for the facility in Dilley, which is about half of the previous payment.

ICE has also said that they are reviewing proposals for an additional 2,500 family detention beds at various sites. GEO Group, the private prison company that runs the Karnes County family detention center, said that they will propose taking a portion of the new beds that ICE are seeking.

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Private prison stocks surge after Trump election

The stocks of two private detention companies have soared following the election of Donald Trump, reported Bloomberg Markets.

Stocks in CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) rose by as much as 60 percent before leveling off at a 34 percent increase. GEO Group saw an increase of 18 percent in their stock at the time same time. These two companies are seen to benefit from Trump's presidency, as he has vowed to increase the number of deportations, which will lead to the need for more immigrant detention centers. These are often run by private companies such as CoreCivic and GEO Group.

The announcement and following increase of stocks helped turn around some of the losses both companies had experienced following the announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ)  that they would begin to phase out the use of private prisons. The president-elect is most likely to reverse the policy of the DOJ to no longer use private prisons.

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2 former Willacy County prison guards charged with bribery

Willacy County Regional Detention Facility

Two former prison guards from the Willacy County Regional Detention Facility were arrested Friday, as reported by Valley Central.

Stephan Salinas and Harry Cordero were both employed at the Willacy County Detention Facility, which is run by the private prison company Management & Training Corp. (MTC) in Raymondville, Texas. This facility was destroyed in a prisoner uprising in 2015 due to poor medical conditions and neglect. Before that, the facility lost its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract in 2011 due to physical and sexual assault by the guards on prisoners.

Cordero and Salinas were both fired by MTC in January following internal investigations of the two guards. Cordero was charged with two counts of bribery and one count of providing contraband in prison. He was found to have accepted bribes to allow alcohol and a cell phone into the prison in December of 2015.

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