It was an interesting day for the GEO Group, perhaps Texas' most troubled private prison corporation. Yesterday morning, the ACLU of Texas said it was suing the company over the death of Manuel Galindo at the Reeves County Detention Center in west Texas:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and El Paso co-counsel Mike Torres and Leon Schydlower today the filing of a lawsuit against the federal government and administrators of a West Texas for-profit prison on behalf of the survivors of Jesus Manuel Galindo. Mr. Galindo, 32, died on December 12, 2008, after suffering a seizure in solitary confinement where he had been placed for complaining about the facility’s failure to provide him medication to control his epileptic seizures. ...
The suit names as defendants individual employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, The GEO Group (which operates the for-profit prison), Reeves County and the facility’s contracted medical provider, Physicians Network Association (PNA).
This is the latest in the long and tragic case of the Reeves County Detention Center. At least nine immigrant prisoners have died in the facility in the last five years. Two uprisings that broke out as a result of the Galindo death cost the county, which owns the facility, over $1 million in repair costs. In the wake of the riots, the ACLU of Texas requested a Department of Justice review of the facility, and attorney Juan Angel Guerra was denied access to clients in Pecos. A year ago, family members of those incarcerated at Reeves joined protests at the Reeves Detention Center.
The GEO Group has had at least six facilities in Texas shuttered or contracts canceled. Notable incidents include the state of Idaho pulling its inmates from the Dickens County Correctional Center in the spring of 2007 in the wake of the suicide of inmate Scot Noble Payne and a subsequent investigation into "squalid" conditions at the lock-up. Idaho also cut its contract the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas after the 2008 suicide of Randy McCullough. In October 2007, the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center was shuttered by the Texas Youth Commission after a damning investigation into conditions at the youth detention center.
Despite that record, the company was today also awarded an Intergovernmental Service Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate a new 600-bed "civil" detention center in Karnes County. The ink hasn't dried on that contract, and there will undoubtedly be a fight over the expansion of ICE's already massive detention system. We'll keep you posted on developments.