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April 2017

Closing the Bartlett State Jail has potential to save millions of dollars

The city of Bartlett is preparing for possible financial difficulties if the Bartlett State Jail closes in September, reports the Temple Daily Telegram. But it may also open opportunities.

The Bartlett State Jail is one of four prisons that may be closed by September following recommendations by the Texas Senate Finance Committee, the workgroup that works on the state's budget for the next two years. The state is hoping to cut $250 million from the budget, and by closing the Bartlett jail, the state of Texas would save around $24 million. If the budget does pass, the prisoners from Bartlett will be transferred to other facilities. The Bartlett State Jail has been operated by CoreCivic (formerly CCA) since 1995, and has a history of hazing and sexual abuse.

Some city of Bartlett officials have expressed concerns that the jail closing will negatively hurt their economy. Officials said that sales tax collection will be reduced and area residents who work at the jail could be reassigned or laid off. The city would also lose over $500,000 a year in water in wastewater removal revenue that comes from the operation of the jail.

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Private prison working on permits to demolish existing parts as they look to reopen notorious facility

Willacy County Regional Detention Facility
A private prison company is working on getting permits to continue their push to reopen the Willacy County Detention Center, reports KRGV 5.

On Monday, Management and Training Corporation (MTC) went with Raymondville officials to inspect the facility as they work to reopen the Willacy County Detention Center. Following the inspection, MTC officials said they plan to demolish ten prison tents that were damaged in a 2015 prisoner uprising. Eleazar Garcia, Raymondville's city manager, said MTC required permits to tear down the structures. Garcia said it would take about a day to process the permits.

Raymondville officials hope that the reopening of the facility will lead to a rebuilding of their economy. The facility could bring between 150 and 200 jobs to Raymondville.

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Private prisons spend big money lobbying in Texas

According to a recent report by Texans for Public Justice, private prison companies are willing to spend big money lobbying for new laws that benefit the prison business.

Texas has always been a prime spot for companies wishing to operate private prisons in the U.S. The two largest private prison companies, CoreCivic and the GEO Group, operate more than 40 facilities in Texas. New data from advocates show how much effort and money those companies put into lobbying Texas officials in hopes of opening new facilities throughout Texas — or protecting their interests in current family detention facilities.

According to the report, private prison companies in 2017 paid 10 lobbyists up to $480,000 dollars to lobby Texas state lawmakers. The GEO Group spent the most, paying up to $320,000 on lobbying. This is evident this legislative session, as one Texas lawmaker admitted that a GEO lobbyist wrote a bill that would give the state of Texas power to license family detention facilities as child care facilities, increasing the amount of time women and children could be detained in these prison camps.

Family detention centers struggle to get licensed

The GEO Group, a private prison company who operates a family detention center in Texas, is struggling to get their center licensed, reports the Associated Press.

Willacy County prison to be inspected next week

The owners of the Willacy County Detention Center are taking a step forward in reopening the facility after more than two years with an upcoming inspection, reports KRGV 5.

The Willacy County Detention Center is known by critics as "Ritmo" — short for Raymondville's Guantánamo prison. It is owned by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), a Utah-based private prison company. Though it has been closed for more than two years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had expressed interest in reopening the facility following presidential orders increasing border security and immigration enforcement. Officials from MTC and the city of Raymondville, where the facility is located, will inspect the facility Monday at 10 a.m.

Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said MTC officials were eager to reopen the facility. “They’re going to start working on the facility itself right now to start repairing the damage, and also to make sure they’re up to specs. We’ll have our code enforcement officer here,” he said.

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GEO Group awarded contract for new immigrant detention center in Texas

The GEO Group released a press release today stating that the company had been awarded a contract for a new 1,000 bed detention center in Conroe, Texas.

The GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the U.S., has been awarded the contract by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The facility is expected to cost over $100 million. GEO will design, finance, construct, and operate the facility for ICE. Including renewal options, the contract between ICE and GEO is a ten-year contract, and is expected to generate $44 million in annual revenue for the company. GEO is planning on having the facility completed by late 2018.

GEO Group closes purchase of Community Education Centers

The GEO Group, a private prison company, has finalized the purchase of Community Education Centers, reports Seeking Alpha.

Eden mayor and city officials begin planning for detention center closure

The mayor of Eden and city officials are in the planning phase as they prepare for the closing for the Eden Detention Center, reports the Concho Valley News.

The Eden Detention Center is operated by CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America), one of the largest for-profit prison corporations in the United States. The contract to operate the facility will expire on April 30. CoreCivic has already notified its employees with a 60-day layoff notice. The facility employs people from San Angelo, Brady, Menard, and Ballinger, amongst others.

As well as employing people from the surrounding towns, the detention center is responsible for around 40 percent of the revenue generated each month by the city's water fund. That is equal to $40,000 a month, and city officials say losing that revenue would financially cripple Eden. San Angelo city council members recently passed a resolution in support of keeping the detention center open, with officials in Brady wanting to do the same.

Lives lost in ICE custody

At least six people have died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October 2016, reports Fusion.

During Fiscal Year 2017, which started on October 1, 2016 and lasts until the end of September 2017, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported the deaths of six individuals in their custody. Two of those individuals were held in Texas detention centers until their untimely deaths.

Olubunmi Toyin Joshua, from the United Kingdom, had been detained in the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, Texas. She had been detained in the detention center for more than eight months before her death. ICE did not disclose a cause of death. The Rolling Plains Detention Center is operated by the for-profit, private prison company Emerald Company.

Wenceslau Esmerio Campos was a Brazilian national who had been detained at the South Texas Detention Complex outside of San Antonio. Wenceslau was taken to the Frio County hospital after complaining of chest pains to prison officials. He was then taken to Methodist Hospital of San Antonio, where he died. His preliminary cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest. The South Texas Detention Center is operated by the GEO Group, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S.

According to Fusion, there were 12 in-custody deaths reported during Fiscal Year 2016; in Fiscal Year 2015, seven people died in ICE custody.

GEO Group buys two facilities in Texas

The GEO Group has bought two more correctional centers in Texas, reports the News-Review

Officials in Maverick and Jones counties confirmed that their closed detention centers have been bought by the for-profit company GEO Group, which runs the most immigrant detention centers in Texas. GEO did at one time operate the facility in Maverick County, but in 2013 there was a disagreement over the contract and how profits were divided up between the company and the county. This led to GEO Group pulling out of the contract, with the county attempting to operate the facility and repay the bonds. They were unsuccessful and the county eventually had to foreclose on the facility. 

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