“What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons.” -- Molly Ivins, 2003

Two former private prison guards plead guilty to bribery

Two former private prison guards pleaded guilty to charges of bribery from their time working at the Willacy County Regional Detention Facility, reports CBS 4 News.  

Last November, Stephen Salinas and Harry Cordero were arrested by the U.S. Marshals for accepting bribes from prisoners in return for bringing alcohol and cell phones into the prison. Cordero pleaded guilty on December 21, with his sentencing hearing to be held on March 27. Salinas pleaded guilty on January 3, and will receive his sentencing on April 11. Both men face three to 10 years in prison.

Ector County Year in Review: Private prisons weren't the only thing that stank

Ector County Courthouse
Ector County had to deal with more waste and smells than they were originally planning on during 2016, reports the Odessa American.

In March of 2016, it was reported that the Ector County Courthouse was dealing with sewage leaking into offices, putting both workers and official documents at risk. This is because on the floor above the courthouse is the Ector County Correctional Center, the jail operated by  private prison company Community Education Centers (CEC). Poorly maintained sewage pipes had been clogged by inmates, which led to bursting pipes.

The problem caused some dispute as some in Ector County wanted CEC to pay for some or all of the repairs needed. CEC offered to pay only a certain amount for damages caused. Some county commissioners approved of asking CEC pay for damages, while others thought it would make the county look like “adversaries” to the private prison company.

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Limestone County Detention Center is back in business

The Limestone County Detention Center in Groesbeck, Texas, is now officially back in business, as reported by KWTX.

As reported earlier, Limestone County signed a new contract with LaSalle Southwest Corrections, a private prison company. The contract saw LaSalle take over the prison and renovate it before moving 55 Harris County juvenile prisoners  into the newly opened prison. As stated when the contract was announced, the Limestone County Detention Center will be used to detain 17-year old Harris County inmates. While there are only 55 in the renovated center now, Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen believes that hundreds more will be moved to the facility after the first of the year. The warden, Charles Vondra, said that the population should grow to about 600 or 650 inmates.

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Supervisor at private jail convicted of supplying contraband to prisoner

 

KFDM 6 of Southeast Texas reports that a federal jury has found a Beaumont, Texas man guilty of giving a prisoner a prohibited item.

Donald Roy Kelly was also found guilty by the same jury of bribery of a public official on December 14. According to the information presented, Kelly was a shift supervisory corrections officer at the downtown Jefferson County Jail, which is operated by private prison company LaSalle Corrections.

Kelly was the supervisor in late 2014 and early 2015, when a high ranking leader of the Gulf Cartel was brought into the jail pending his trial for federal drug trafficking offenses. Kelly then approached them cartel member and offered a cell phone to the prisoner in exchange for money. He then engaged other individuals in helping him with the plan. The cell phone was purchased by another individual who then gave it to Kelly, who in turn gave it to the Gulf Cartel leader. Kelly also worked to bring fast food into the jail for the cartel leader, who had individuals attempt to transfer money into Kelly's accounts for his actions. Kelly now faces up to 15 years in a federal prison, with sentencing happening after a review by the U.S. Probation Office.

LaSalle Corrections is a private prison company that operates multiple for-profit prisons in the state of Texas. LaSalle has a history of failed inspections, inmate escapes, and sexual assault in the prisons they operate.

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