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Immigration Detention

McLennan County's Jack Harwell lock-up still under-filled as ICE doesn't send detained immigrants to Waco

McLennan County is still struggling to fill its speculatively-built Jack Harwell Detention Center, according to an article in the Waco Tribune ("ICE detainees never delivered to county’s jail," August 27) this week:

"McLennan County officials said the 200 detainees U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised to the county’s private jail didn’t come.

Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon said ICE told the county the detainees would be delivered to the Jack Harwell Detention Center on Highway 6 at the end of July, but none arrived.

Harwell warden James Duke said he has offered 300 of the center’s 833 beds to the federal agency, but he doesn’t know when to expect them to be filled.

“The thing with immigration is this facility is only an overflow facility. So basically, we can’t expect (detainees) unless (ICE) needs us for overflow beds, and there’s no way we can predict that,” he said. “Dealing with (ICE), it’s got to be on their time and on their need.”"

ICE Bails out Private Prison in McLennan County

The Jack Harwell Detention Center, built in 2010 on $49 million in revenue bonds, is once again housing immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  McLennan County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon told the Waco Tribune that the facility would begin leasing two hundred beds to ICE for people awaiting immigration hearings.

LaSalle Corrections took control of the facility just last month when the county decided to change operators from Community Education Centers, which had run the detention center since its construction.  The county had always had trouble filling the beds, but after an audit by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and an ICE investigation uncovered poor conditions, McLennan County lost its contract with ICE in December 2011.

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Limestone County awards new contract to MTC

Limestone County officials selected a new operator, Management and Training Corporation (MTC), to run the Limestone County Detention Center after Community Education Centers (CEC) lost their contract in March.  

The Utah-based private prison company, MTC, will run the 1,000-bed facility, mostly to house federal immigrant prisoners.

MTC beat out 3 competitors for the contract, including Detention Management Services, a company seemingly created by Limestone County Detention Center warden and administrator Mike Sutton, who ran the prison for the past 13 years. Sutton told county officials during the bidding process that, as a stopgap measure, he'd be willing to continue to run the prison under that company name. 

In the end, however, county officials opted to award the contract to MTC.

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Organizations Send Letter to Sec. Napolitano: Close Polk!

Protesters outside PCDCThis week, a sign-on letter was publicly delivered to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.  The letter, signed by 37 national and Texas-based organizations, calls for the immediate closure of the Polk County Detention Center.  This facility, run by for-profit private prison company Community Education Centers, was highlighted on a list of ten of amongst the worst in the nation by Detention Watch Network due to the inhuman conditions revealed in a November 2012 report by Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families.  The letter states that"

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