“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

What's Happening at CCA's Mineral Wells Prison?

Several readers have contacted us over the last month with concerns about developments at Corrections Corporation of America's Mineral Wells pre-parole transfer facility. The facility, housing state prisoners awaiting transfer, was the site of a major multi-day disturbance last fall.

This time readers, including some with family members in the prison, are worried that CCA is constructing metal coverings over the dorm windows, creating a safety hazard. One reader sent pictures to illustrate the point.

Mineral Wells Dorm Before Metal On WindowsMineral Wells Dorm Before Metal On Windows

Mineral Wells Dorm with Metal Over WindowsMineral Wells Dorm with Metal Over Windows









Clearly, conditions that make prisoners and families feel unsafe are not good in prisons, a special importance at a facility like Mineral Wells which has experienced some major disturbances in the past years. We'll keep you posted on developments from Mineral Wells In the meantime, read our previous posts about Mineral Wells:

Laredo ISD Challenges Sale of Webb County Juvenile Detention Center

Laredo Independent School District trustee Jose A. Valdez expressed concern about the proposed sale of Webb County Juvenile Detention Center to Cornell Companies last week, citing the accompanying change in makeup of the facility from juveniles to adults as cause for concern due to the close proximity of the detention center to two elementary schools.

The Laredo Morning Times Reports:

"The detention center's location, in the 4100 block of Juarez Avenue, is too close to nearby schools and raises safety issues, Jose Valdez said.

"Our concern is that one block to the south is an elementary school, Santa Maria. On Chicago (Street), one block to the west is Farias Elementary," he said. "We don't want a prison there."

The proposed contract stipulates that the facility be used for re-entry of adult prisoners under jurisdiction of the United States Bureau of Prisons. Webb has been trying to sell its County Juvenile Detention Center for more than a year in order to pay for operation of a new juvenile detention center-- the Webb County Youth Village Complex.

On a slightly encouraging note, the issue of prison privatization seems to be getting a critical look in Webb County. Bob wrote earlier this month about the County Commissioner races going on in Webb, where some candidates are making opposition to Geo Group an important piece of their platforms. And this was in the LMT article:

"Martinez said the recent political climate and the controversysurrounding the GEO Group's new detention facility in south Laredo ishelping to fuel to the issue"

LISD trustee George M. Beckelhymer said it is always good to examine intent with respect to contracts, especially if one entity is a for-profit business.

Good indeed.

Hutto Resolution Passed Over 60 SD 26 Precincts

The Burnt Orange Report reports that the Hutto resolution, calling for alternatives to detention of immigrant children and their families, passed in over 60 Democratic precinct conventions in Senate District 26, covering Bexar County, and will be debated at Democratic County Conventions this Saturday.  If the resolution passes in a sufficient number of county conventions, it could become part of the state Democratic Party platform.  

According to BOR, the resolution passed in the following SD 26 precinct conventions:

Submitted to and Adopted by 61 precincts (1001, 1005, 1006, 1010, 1079, 1080, 1087, 1088, 1093, 1098, 1101, 1104, 1108, 1112, 1113, 2004, 2021, 2026, 2034, 2035, 2058, 2060, 2078, 2084, 2087, 2090, 2093, 2094, 2097, 2106, 2118, 2125, 2132, 2139, 3003, 3010, 3016, 3031, 3032, 3037, 3038, 3095, 3107, 3113, 3127, 3129, 3136, 3138, 3139, 3140, 3141, 3147, 3168, 3172, 4006, 4013, 4014, 4017, 4018, 4075, 4157); and Amended and Adopted by Precinct 2140, in Senate District 26, Bexar County, Texas, March 4, 2008. Amended by the Senate District 26 Resolutions Committee, March 16, 2008 and combined with resolutions that had been Submitted to and Adopted by Precincts 2045 and 2140 in Senate District 26, Bexar County, Texas on March 4, 2008. Amended by the Senate District 26 Resolutions Committee March 19, 2008.

We had already heard that the resolution passed in these other precinct conventions around the state:

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

We'll keep you posted on how the Hutto resolution fares at the Democratic Party county conventions this Saturday.

Report on CCA 2007 4th Quarter Conference Call

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest prison provider, held its 2007 4th Quarter conference call earlier this year. During the call, CCA updated investors regarding capacity and addressed new beds the company was bringing online as a result of increased demand for new prison beds. Company representatives emphasized that while the country is an economic downturn, the prison system is not impacted by negative economic cycles.

As of February 2008, CCA 41 owned facilities with 50,909 beds and 24 managed only facilities with 26,751 beds. The company managed contracts with 20 states, all three federal agencies, and the District of Columbia. Further, of the beds that CCA owned or managed in 2007 about 6.64% were in Texas.

CCA likes to emphasize its strong presence in the private prison industry; controlling approximately 47% of the private prison and jail beds in the nation. The company acknowledged it's own contributions to the growth of the private prison industry where staff mentioned that in 1990 private prisons numbered 10,973 and in 2007 that number increased to over 164,000 beds.


Total Capacity

U.S. Market
Owned and
Controlled Beds
CCA 77,660 47.2% 50,909
The Geo Group Inc. 43,402 26.4% 19,902
Cornell Companies 16,024 9.7% 14,017
Management & Training Corp. 11,945 7.3% 506
All Others 15,581 9.4% unavailable

Source: CCA Q4 2007 Investor Presentation

CCA officials stated that new reports relating to a reduction in Texas prison capacity will not impact CCA contracts since the the private prison company was not planning any local expansion. However, CCA staff emphasized that the state continues to operate its prison -- public and private -- at capacity.

The call also addressed trends at the federal level, including those that would facilitate capacity expansion and benefit CCA's bottom line. Specifically, the recently passed federal FY 2008 budget supports an increase of the immigrant detention population of 32,000 prison beds up from 27,000 beds from FY 2007 and an increase from the President’s previous budget. Further, the budget authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue future budget requests for additional capacity if needed and requires the agency to update Congress monthly on immigrant detention capacity.

Additionally, the President recently released his FY 2009 budget that increases detention population beds to 33,000. In 2005, funding for detention beds numbered only 19,000. As a result, there will be an addtional 1,000 to 1,500 new immigrant detention beds that will come online by 2009.

The call highlighted trends at the state and federal level and painted an overall picture of the direction of CCA. As advocates working to address the problem of mass incarceration and how private prison operators contribute to that growth it is truly disturbing to observe the comments of CCA represenatives who relish the nation's projected prison prison growth.

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