“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

Geo Plans to Open Three Texas Facilities in 2008

From Geo Group Conference Call on February 13th: A webcast of the call can be found here, and a written transcript of the Texas-specific portions can be found here.

"We are working on three separate projects in Texas. In Montgomery County, we are awaiting the county’s completion of a 1100-bed non-recourse bond financed detention facility which we expect will be used by other state or federal agencies. We expect to open this managed [unclear] facility in September and estimate it will generate $14 million in annual operating revenues.

In Laredo, we are building the 1500-bed Rio Grande Detention Center for the US Marshals Service under contract for the office of the federal detention trustee. This facility will cost approximately $86 million when completed and is being company-financed. We expect the contract to generate approximately $36 million in annual revenues when the facility is available to open by October of this year. Our contract with OFDT provides for a fixed monthly payment with an occupancy guarantee of 50% enabling us, again, to recover all of our fixed costs in desired economics at the guaranteed occupancy level. We receive a nominal per-diem for population levels in excess of the 50% guarantee.

In Maverick County, we are constructing a 654-bed detention facility which is being financed through the issuance of non-recourse project revenue bonds. We anticipate the project will be completed and ready for occupancy by the federal or county detention agencies in September. At full occupancy this managed-only facility will generate approximately $10 million in annualized operating revenue exclusive of debt service."

Also of Note

Geo Group may bid on the sale of the Coke County facility that was shut down last October because of unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

"Our guidance also does not take into account our possible reactivation of the Coke County Texas Facility, which is currently the subject of a public auction by its owners—the County."

"...I don’t think they’ve placed any kind of limitations, per se, on which prisoners can come in there"

Geo Group will likely bid on new immigrant detention contracts funded in the 2008 federal budget

"Congress has approved a budget for 2008 fiscal year, and has provided funding that supports a 4,500-bed increase in the immigration detention beds to 32,000 beds from the prior year’s 27,500."

Geo Group is finalizing the renewal terms of a 5-year Bexar County Facility Agreement

“On December 20th, we were selected by Bexar County to negotiate a 5-year contract to continue to operate the 688-bed central Texas detention facility in downtown San Antonio. We are currently working with the county to finalize terms to renew our 5-year agreement.”

Hutto In The News

Corrections Corporation of America's controversial T. Don Hutto family detention center has continued to make news both in Texas and around the country.

As Nicole reported last week, a feature story in the New Yorker magazine covered the detention center and the trend in for-profit immigrant detention as a whole. The full story is now available online. Williamson County resident and geographer Peter Dana had an excellent letter following-up on the New Yorker story in the Williamson County Sun last week, which I've attached. Here's a sample:

Surely we don’t really believe that innocent children should be held in detention facilities, internment camps, or prisons, especially if the parents have committed no sin at all, merely applied for asylum. For our County Commissioners to take part in subverting a bidding process for a part of the proceeds is wrong. Let’s have some charity for the children, not for the Corrections Corporation of America, and put an end to this costly, unnecessary, and unjust practice.

Last week, Hutto was mentioned by United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrant, Jorge Bustamonte, (who, as many readers may remember was denied access to Hutto last spring) who criticized immigrant detention and deportation practices in hearings. Bustamonte said at the hearings last Friday that his trip to Hutto was canceled "without satisfactory explanation."

Hutto also drew criticism from Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) and California Representative Linda Sanchez at House Homeland Security meetings with DHS Director Michael Chertoff. According to the Statesman article:

Sanchez said that children at the facilities had been put in cells alone for hours, awakened in the middle of the night with flashlights in their faces and threatened with being permanently separated from their parents.

And, in local news, an International Women's Day Protest and Peace Walk was held at Hutto this past Saturday and drew a few dozen folks from Terlingua, San Antonio, Austin, and Williamson County. Read the Taylor Daily Press's coverage here.

Val Verde Detention Center Protest Video

Below is a video of a protest I participated in at GEO Group's Val Verde Detention Center last October. The protest was organized by the Texas Jail Project, Grassroots Leadership, and the Border Ambassadors after a series of scandals including a sexual assault and suicide of LeTisha Tapia, a racial discrimination lawsuit, a civil rights violation, and three mysterious deaths.


The video was produced by Matthew Gossage for Grassroots Leadership.

Hutto Resolutions Pass Dozens of Precincts Statewide

Update: I'll be continuing to update the precincts in this post as they come in, occassionally bumping this post to the top.

As we mentioned in a previous post, one of the more interesting parts of Tuesday's caucus process is the resolution process, where grassroots Democratic Party members are allowed to introduce resolutions which can eventually be introduced to the state party platform. Resolutions calling for the closure of the T. Don Hutto detention center was introduced in dozens of precincts in at least five counties.

Although official results haven't been released, thus far I've heard that the Hutto resolutions passed in the following precincts:

Travis County - 136, 152, 235, 239, 250, 274, 410, 424, 426, 427, 423, 442, 431, 315, 334, 345

Harris County - 57, 268, 361, 732

Williamson County
- 427, 425, 357

Brazoria County - 58

Bexar County - 3024, 3098

I assume there are many more precincts, especially in Travis, Williamson, and Bexar Counties where the resolutions were introduced into the party precinct packets. If you know of a precinct not listed that passed the Hutto resolution, please contact me. I have heard of at least one precinct in Harris County that did not adopt the resolution, but overwhelming I've heard positive reviews from precinct-goers who introduced the resolution.

In related news, an International Women's Day protest is scheduled this Saturday in Taylor. Details from an organizer:

The peace walk will begin at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, March 8, at the Heritage Park in downtown Taylor (directions below) and end across the street from the prison, about 1.25 miles away. Please assemble at Heritage Park at 3:00 p.m. We will rally peacefully across the street at the Hutto prison until just after sunset, when we will have a short candlelight vigil and prayer ceremony.

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