“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

Second Riot in 2 Months at GEO's Reeves County Detention Center Leaves Injuries, Significant Damage

The second major riot in two months has left significant damage at the GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center, according to a story by the Associated Press ("Company says Texas prison's damage 'significant,'" February 3),

The company that runs a federal prison in West Texas says "significant" damage from the second riot in less than two months has left the facility unable to resume normal operations.

The GEO Group Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that inmates in two of the Reeves County Detention Center's three units remain under staff view in a central area of the complex. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company says inmates remain "cooperative and compliant" after a riot that started Saturday afternoon.

The company says there have been no serious injuries to staff or inmates.

However, CNN ("Texas riot quelled, inmates damage buildings" February 1) claims that there were at least three inmate hospitalizations, including an inmate with a severed fingers.  The prisoners are apparently protesting for better medical care, according to an AP video story with some dramatic footage ("Company Says Riot at Private Texas Prisons" February 2).  The December riot was based on similar problems with medical care, including the mysterious death of an inmate. 

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GEO Guards Threaten to Strike in Pearsall

Months of negotiation seem to be at a stalemate in South Texas. Guards at the GEO owned South Texas Detention Complex are considering a strike after not achieving the pay raise they have asked for. According to local station News 4 WOAI (Private Prison Personnel Could Walk Off Job, January 14, 2009):

The union's chief negotiator Howard Johannssen says, "This employer refuses to give them a pay raise of any sort."

The pending strike is another example of the extra cost associated private prisons. According to news reports, if guards do strike the immigrant detainees held in the private prison lockup will be moved across the state at taxpayers' expenses. ICE issued a statement to News 4 WOAI that reads:

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CEC/CiviGenics Misused Jail Repair Money?

This interesting tidbit comes out Cleveland Advocacy ("Liberty County Commissioners pay for jail repairs," January 15),

Additionally the commissioners addressed a complicated item regarding payments for repairs to the County Jail. At issue were repairs that had to be performed to the Liberty County Jail after the change in management that occurred in 2007.

“The company that ran the jail until 2006 hadn’t made some repairs so we held onto the payment in exchange for the repairs,” said County Judge Phil Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald stated that the county was releasing the funds to Community Education Centers (CEC), the company that used to run the jail, because they paid Civigenics, the company that now runs the jail, to make the repairs.

Maybe no one told the Liberty County Commission that CEC acquired CiviGenics back in 2007. So, in 2006 the county payed the jail operator to make repairs to the facility. The company didn't do it. Now, the county is trusting that the company, now operating under another name, to do the same repairs. We'll keep you posted on how this turns out...

McLennan County One Step Closer to Private Jail?

A split-decision has allowed McLennan County to float revenue bonds to pay for a new CEC/CiviGenics prison, according to an article by Waco Tribune writer Regina Dennis. The article ("McLennan County approves sale of $49 million in bonds for new county jail," January 13) states,

McLennnan County officials approved the sale of $49 million in project revenue bonds Monday to finance a new jail on State Highway 6.

The bonds are being sold at a coupon rate of 6.625 percent. Investment banking firm Municipal Capital Markets Inc., which is handling the sale, will buy the bonds and resell them to other investors, said Executive Vice President Michael Harling.

Texas Prison Bid'ness readers may recognize Municipal Capital Markets' Harling from our July story on Willacy County's push to be home to a new family detention center. In that story, Harling, a prison-pusher whose fingers have been in many controversial private prison deals throughout the state, was defending ICE's controversial family detention policy.

In this case, according to the Waco Trib, the bond issue did not have unanimous support on the committee,


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