“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

As private prison closes, Eden looks to diversify economy

After the closing of the Eden Detention Center, city of Eden officials are taking steps to secure their future, reports the San Angelo Standard-Times.

The Eden Detention Center, which is operated by the for-profit prison company CoreCivic, has been located in the city of Eden since 1985. City officials have been planning for the closure, as the contract with CoreCivic to operate the facility ended April 30.

To do this, city officials are looking for profitable opportunities that will make up for the jobs and revenue that came from the private detention center. The officials are working with representatives from different university small business development programs and have hired a government and public relations firm to speed up the process. There have been talks of focusing on the enhancement of the arts and draw in new businesses.

The Eden Detention Center is one of many private detention centers owned by CoreCivic in Texas. The facility was a focal point for a damaging report by the ACLU which highlighted the facility's history of medical neglect, overcrowding, and unsanitary conditions.

While the closing of the detention center will be tough for the city, Mario Castillo of Aegis Group Ltd., the public relations firm hired by the city of Eden, took positives from the closing.

"I think what Eden has learned is diversification is crucial,“ Castillo said. “Like other small cities, they need to be careful what their economic base is made of; they need to look at their economic mix.”

Hopefully other cities and counties will learn from Eden, and realize that basing your economy on private prisons and detention centers is never a good plan.

Closing the Bartlett State Jail has potential to save millions of dollars

The city of Bartlett is preparing for possible financial difficulties if the Bartlett State Jail closes in September, reports the Temple Daily Telegram. But it may also open opportunities.

The Bartlett State Jail is one of four prisons that may be closed by September following recommendations by the Texas Senate Finance Committee, the workgroup that works on the state's budget for the next two years. The state is hoping to cut $250 million from the budget, and by closing the Bartlett jail, the state of Texas would save around $24 million. If the budget does pass, the prisoners from Bartlett will be transferred to other facilities. The Bartlett State Jail has been operated by CoreCivic (formerly CCA) since 1995, and has a history of hazing and sexual abuse.

Some city of Bartlett officials have expressed concerns that the jail closing will negatively hurt their economy. Officials said that sales tax collection will be reduced and area residents who work at the jail could be reassigned or laid off. The city would also lose over $500,000 a year in water in wastewater removal revenue that comes from the operation of the jail.

However, closing the jail could actually end up saving the city money in the long run. Due to the high population of the jail, as well as the city of Bartlett, the city's wastewater treatment plant is not in compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. To bring Bartlett into compliance and avoid high fines would require expensive repairs and sludge clean up for the existing wastewater facility. By closing the jail, the city would reduce the demands on the wastewater facility, possibly saving the city thousands, or even millions, of dollars in necessary repairs and upgrades.

City and state officials are preparing for the possible shutdown by creating an economic development plan and looking at other possibilities or alternatives to improving the local economy.

Bartlett officials may want to speak with city of Eden officials, who are looking at ways to diversify their economy following the closing of the Eden Detention Center. They are looking into enhancing the arts in their town and finding ways to draw small businesses to the area.  

Blogging Categories: 

Private prison working on permits to demolish existing parts as they look to reopen notorious facility

Willacy County Regional Detention Facility
A private prison company is working on getting permits to continue their push to reopen the Willacy County Detention Center, reports KRGV 5.

On Monday, Management and Training Corporation (MTC) went with Raymondville officials to inspect the facility as they work to reopen the Willacy County Detention Center. Following the inspection, MTC officials said they plan to demolish ten prison tents that were damaged in a 2015 prisoner uprising. Eleazar Garcia, Raymondville's city manager, said MTC required permits to tear down the structures. Garcia said it would take about a day to process the permits.

Raymondville officials hope that the reopening of the facility will lead to a rebuilding of their economy. The facility could bring between 150 and 200 jobs to Raymondville.

Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based private prison company, has been in the process of reopening their facility located in Raymondville, Texas. It had to be closed in 2015 after a prisoner uprising caused by the horrible conditions at the facility, which led to several prison tents being partially destroyed. Some parts of the facility were torn down soon after the uprising in hopes of securing a new contract, which did not materialize. While insurance covered the cost for MTC to repair the facility, it was not enough for Willacy County and led to a budget crisis that is still affecting the local economy. Perhaps it is time for cities and counties to new look for new revenue streams outside of private prisons, ones that are beneficial and not as risky.

Blogging Categories: 

Private prisons spend big money lobbying in Texas

According to a recent report by Texans for Public Justice, private prison companies are willing to spend big money lobbying for new laws that benefit the prison business.

Texas has always been a prime spot for companies wishing to operate private prisons in the U.S. The two largest private prison companies, CoreCivic and the GEO Group, operate more than 40 facilities in Texas. New data from advocates show how much effort and money those companies put into lobbying Texas officials in hopes of opening new facilities throughout Texas — or protecting their interests in current family detention facilities.

According to the report, private prison companies in 2017 paid 10 lobbyists up to $480,000 dollars to lobby Texas state lawmakers. The GEO Group spent the most, paying up to $320,000 on lobbying. This is evident this legislative session, as one Texas lawmaker admitted that a GEO lobbyist wrote a bill that would give the state of Texas power to license family detention facilities as child care facilities, increasing the amount of time women and children could be detained in these prison camps.

Paying lobbyists isn't all that private prison companies have to been up to either. Between 2013 and 2016, these companies gave more than $225,000 to Texas lawmakers via political action committees. The largest amount of money was given to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Gov. Patrick, and to various Republican leadership committees and caucuses.

Between bidding for new contracts with different communities to operate detention centers or their lobbying Texas politicians, private prison companies’ influence in Texas is evident. GEO Group has been awarded a contract to build and operate a new facility in Texas, and private prison stocks have been on the rise. The report by Texans for Public Justice exposes who has the real power at the Texas Capitol, and it seems to be whoever can pay the largest amount.

Pages

Subscribe to Texas Prison Bid'ness RSS