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July 2017

County Judge: Removing the county jail's agreement with the fed. gov't would be immoral

The El Paso County Judge said that ending the county's federal jail contract would be immoral, reports ABC 7 KVIA.

 

The county jail in El Paso has a contract with the federal government to detain undocumented immigrants. After meeting with Border Patrol, the Federal Public Defender's Office, and the Mexican Consulate, County Judge Veronica Escobar stated that ending the contract would be immoral. She said that if the county ended the contract, many of the undocumented immigrants would be forced to go to private prisons.

 

The federal government pays El Paso County $80 a day per inmate housed in their facility, though the actual cost is $89 a day per inmate. The difference amounts to about $5 million, which taxpayers are responsible for paying.

 

While it is true that private prisons are known for mistreatment of their prisoners, including sexual abuse by guards and deaths in their facilities, Escobar herself admitted that the county jail is "an aging facility and we're going to need to pour more maintenance in it." While it is an improvement over private prisons, it is still a cage.

 

It leaves us with the question: At what point is a cage morally acceptable?

Residents protest newest immigration lock-up in Texas

The people of Conroe, Texas are getting a new immigration detention center in their town, regardless of whether they want it or not, reports the Texas Observer.

 

In April, the GEO Group was awarded a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build a new immigrant detention center in Conroe. The contract includes the construction and operation of the $110-million facility, which the company expects to earn $44 million in annual revenue. However, city officials and residents are not impressed.

 

Conroe Mayor Toby Powell  said, "It’s going ahead; I don’t think I have any say-so," in deciding whether the facility will be built or not. When the idea for the detention center was first brought up in 2013, members of the community spoke out against the construction, stating they did not want Conroe to become "Con-vict-roe." These protests continued as community members spoke out against the new facility.

 

Unfortunately, the contract is between ICE and GEO, who already received the necessary building permits. Mayor Powell claims he was powerless to stop the issuing of permits.

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Private prison guard sentenced to jail time for accepting bribes

A former guard at a privately operated prison in Texas was sentenced today for accepting bribes according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

 

Stephen Salinas was one of two former guards from the Willacy County Detention Center who were accused of accepting bribes last year. Salinas pleaded guilty in January of this year for accepting bribes in return for bringing alcohol and cell phones to prisoners.

 

Salinas was employed by Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based private prison company that ran the Willacy County Detention Center. Salinas will serve 18 months in prison followed by a three-year supervised release.

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A diabetic migrant's medication trashed while held for ICE in CCA custody

A diabetic woman detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and held in a Corrections Corporation of America (now called CoreCivic) detention center had her medication thrown away, Rewire reports.

 

Brenda Menjivar Guardado, from El Salvador, was detained in June at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, which is used to detain asylum-seeking women as their asylum case goes through the courts. Guardado has Type 1 diabetes, but had managed her condition throughout her journey to the United States. Once she was in ICE custody, however, her medicine was thrown away, according to Rewire.

 

While detained at Hutto, Guardado was given new medication, but it was ineffective. According to a press release from Grassroots Leadership, Guardado's glucose skyrocketed to 452, with normal glucose levels being between 90 and 100. When she asked for improved medication, officials at Hutto told her to drink more water. They also stated she should go back to El Salvador if she wanted better care.

 

American Gateways, a pro bono legal service that aids women in Hutto, tried to get her removed from custody due to Guardado's medical emergency, but the request was denied. Though Guardado fears for her life in El Salvador, she decided to accept deportation in hopes of receiving improved medical care. She is currently detained in Laredo as she awaits her deportation.

 

The Hutto Detention Center is operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), a for-profit prison company with a history of medical neglect.  CoreCivic also operates multiple other immigrant detention centers and prison throughout Texas.

 

 

Private prison is up for sale

Reeves County is thinking of selling their detention center, News West 9 reports.

 

Reeves County announced at the end of May that they would be permanently shutting down two corrections units as a part of the the Reeves County Detention Center complex operated by private prison corporation GEO Group, following the loss of a contract with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The county was negotiating with the BOP to keep a third unit open for another year as they transfer prisoners to other facilities. The negotiations were unsuccessful for the county however, and now the third unit will be closed.

 

County officials are now looking at all available options for the facility, including selling it. The county has received two bids for the facility so far. One was under the estimated price of the facility, and commissioners stated the other was more of a lay away plan. Neither bid was accepted, and the county is now getting an appraisal of the facility before it opening it up to other bids.

 

If Reeves County is looking to profit from their detention centers, they may think again. The closing of the Bartlett State Jail has potential to save the city thousands of dollars a year, while the city of Eden is looking to diversify their economy following the closing of their private prison. Reeves County would do well to invest in long-term solutions, and not prisons that can close at the drop of a hat.

One private prison company replaces another

One private prison company is taking a contract away from their competition, reports the Longview News-Journal.

 

Management and Training Corporation (MTC) is a Utah-based private prison company that recently was contracted to CoreCivic, another for-profit prison company. CoreCivic had operated the Bradshaw State Jail for 13 years, but recently lost their bid to renew the contract for the facility. Due to the failed contract renewal, over 500 workers from three different detention centers in Texas will be laid off.

 

MTC, which operates the East Texas Treatment Facility near the Bradshaw State Jail, will take over operations of Bradshaw starting on September 1. The company plans on hiring the majority of the employees from the Bradshaw State Jail that will be laid off by CoreCivic following their failed bid.