Money/Financial Interests

CEC drops the Falls County jail contract

Last week, Community Education Centers (CEC) decided to not renew their contract to manage the Falls County Detention Center in Marlin, TX. According to the Marlin Democrat:

"CEC has chosen not to renew the contract with Falls County and the detention center will come under the direction of Falls County, sometime in April. CEC, which has personnel in many jail facilities in many towns, has moved inmates to other facilities at a lower cost and couldn’t afford to pay the inmate cost at the Falls County facility...

...[County Judge Steven] Sharp said that at the last meeting of the Commissioner’s Court, “We are working on creating a budget so we can provide all services at the jail as well as amending the Sheriff’s budget to cover such expenses. We won’t loose [sic] all the outside inmates and will still be able to provide services for the local ones. One good thing to come out of this is that we keep all the profits and not have to pay private contractors." Jail capacity is 94 – 95 inmates.

Originally, the plan projected that it would take 20 years to pay for the construction of the $3.5 million structure with funds from housing prisoners to defray that cost, but the county was paying thousands of dollars each month to CEC, therefore making no profit. The county has eight more years to repay the cost of building." ("CEC does not renew contract for jail services," Marlin Democrat, January 18, 2011.)

Without a renewal of the CEC contract, it looks like Falls County is going to provide the same services for holding out-of-county inmates as CEC was contracted to do, except now the county will not pay a company to perform a function that Falls County could have performed itself. This realignment begs the question: if the county can and will continue profiting from holding outside inmates, why did the county sign a contract with CEC in the first place?

CEC's Dickens County Jail contract expires, inmates sent to Lubbock

On Friday, Community Education Centers (CEC) decided to let their contract with the Dickens County Jail expire. All the inmates from that facility were transferred to the Lubbock County Detention Center. The US Marshals will pay the city of Lubbock a $40 per diem rate, and $10 per hour for guards, but the jail's Chief Deputy said they would negotiate for a higher rate in order to recover the cost of Lubbock's sending to Dickens in the first place. Now that Lubbock has a new and larger jail, they want their inmates back:

As of Friday the Lubbock County Detention Center hold [sic] 105 inmates with more on the way. Chief Deputy Downes said all the federal inmates should be transferred by the end of next week.  "The Lubbock County taxpayers are seeing some return on what they spent on this facility," said Chief Deputy Downes.

But for Dickens County, a community of 2,700, having the federal inmates transferred has led to all 489 beds empty and more than120 jobs lost.

This comes after the privately owned company that operated the Dickens County Jail did not renew their three year contract and is in the process of transitioning the operation of the jail back to Dickens[.]

"We've been working diligently for the last 8 months to ensure this day would never come. Unfortunately it has," said Lesa Arnold, Dickens County Judge.

The Dickens County Judge said possible loss of the jail is not an effect of less inmates. It's also due to the economy and location.

"I think a lot of it had to do with geography. It was just closer for the U.S. Marshals to the court system in Lubbock," said Judge Arnold.

The Dickens County Judge will find out Monday if another private company will operate their jail. (Christie Post, "Lubbock County Detention Center offsets cost by receiving federal inmates from Dickens County," 10 December, 2010, KCBD.)

Check back here after next Monday for any news regarding if another private company will take over Dickens.

Dawson State Jail's contract renewed for next seven years

Earlier this year, we wondered what would come of the Dawson State Jail's contract in light of the plans for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's plans for budget cuts. As Grits for Breakfast noted earlier in March, 

Dawson State Jail's contract with Corrections Corporation of America is up for renewal next January [2011]. This ill-placed facility is located in downtown Dallas on the banks of the Trinity River in prime real estate the city hopes to redevelop. So the fact that Dawson's contract ends on January 15, 2011 is a significant date for the city of Dallas: If the state renews the contract, the proposed riverfront redevelopment could be put on hold indefinitely. It's possible, then, we may see members of the Dallas delegation and related development interests pushing for non-renewal, though certainly CCA will have its own lobbyists on the other side.

Unfortunately, it appears Scott's prediction will not come to fruition. Despite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's dedication to budget cuts, and the Dallas citizens' outcry to move the prison off the valued real estate, TDCJ renewed their contract for the Dawson State Jail, operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

the Dawson State  Jail ain't going anywhere: The Texas [Department] of Criminal Justice awarded CCA a new contract for operations of the Dawson State Jail at its meeting last month, TDCJ Director of Public Information Michelle Lyons tells Unfair Park. (Minutes from that meeting are supposed to be available; they are not.) She says the contract will run for the next seven years. (Robert Wilonsky, "The City Would Love to Get Its Hands On the Dawson State Jail. It'll Have to Keep Waiting," Dallas Observer, 16 November 2010.)

The facility is contracted out by the state for a price of $23,177,553 per year, which over seven years comes to a grand total of $162,242,871. The city/state might be surprised at what could get accomplished over seven years if they spent $162 million on environmental restoration. Nevertheless, unless something changes between now and January 15, 2011, Texas will keep the Dawson State Jail around for longer.

Citing private prison connections, human rights coalition opposes U.S. Marshals nominee

A coalition of human rights and criminal justice reform groups, including my organization Grassroots Leadership, issued a press release announcing its opposition to the nomination of Stacia Hylton to the head post at the U.S. Marshals.  According to the press release,

Hylton, a former Marshal and Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Marshals Service with a lengthy career in law enforcement, was employed from June 2004 to February 2010 as the Federal Detention Trustee, where she oversaw the detention of federal prisoners awaiting trial or immigration proceedings. Following her retirement she was nominated by President Obama on September 20, 2010 to direct the U.S. Marshals Service.
 
During Hylton’s tenure as Federal Detention Trustee, GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest for-profit private prison company, was awarded a number of lucrative contracts to house federal prisoners. These included a sole-source ten-year contract at GEO’s Western Region Detention Facility in San Diego, generating approximately $34 million in annual revenue; a 20-year contract to operate the 1,500-bed Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, Texas with an estimated $34 million in annual revenue; and a 20-year sole-source contract to manage the Robert A. Deyton Detention Facility in Lovejoy, Georgia, generating $16-20 million in annual revenue.
 
As reported by the Washington Times in an October 25 article, after retiring as Federal Detention Trustee earlier this year, Hylton quickly accepted a consulting job with GEO Group through her Virginia-based company, Hylton Kirk & Associates LLC, of which she is the president and sole owner. In her financial disclosure statement, Hylton reported income of $112,500 for “consulting services for detention matters, federal relations, and acquisitions and mergers.” GEO Group is the only company listed in her disclosure statement in connection with such consulting services.

Organizations included in the coalition opposing Hylton's nomination include Private Corrections Working Group, Detention Watch Network, The Alliance for Justice, Human Rights Defense Center, Private Corrections Working Group, Grassroots Leadership, National Lawyers Guild, International CURE, Detention Watch Network and Justice Policy Institute.

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