“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

Willacy County, Construction Company to settle lawsuit

Last week, the Valley Morning Star reported that Willacy County, Texas has entered into mediation over a lawsuit filed against a construction company that allegedly practiced poor workmanship in constructing a controversial private prison in Raymondville. The subsequent repairs cost the county $620,000, according to County Judge John F. Gonzales ("Prison lawsuit goes to mediation", 4/18/2014). 

The county filed the lawsuit against Hale-Mills Construction, a company that operates out of Houston, on March 7. The county has accused Hale-Mills of poor construction on the $7.5 million Willacy County Jail, a $14.5 million county private prison used by the U.S. Marshals' service, as well as a $111.5 million county-funded private detention center comprised of tent-shaped structures.

The county wishes to mediate with Hale-Mills, which has been accused of poor construction practices that allegedly resulted in roof leaks at the U.S. Marshals'-contracted prison. These conditions lead the Marshals' Service, which pays the county to house prisoners, to threaten to remove the people in their custody from the facility in 2011, according to Gonzales. 

"We want to get this resolved as soon as possible," Gonzales said. Traci Koenig, Hale Mills' director of business development, hopes for a "peaceful resolution" to the lawsuit as well.

Gonzales said that Hale-Mills began reparing the roof in 2012, a job that was not completed by November of that year, which prompted Willacy County to hire another company to repair the leaky roof which cost the County $620,000. Even with those damages, Gonzales claims, the roof was still under warranty at that time. 

Hale-Mills and Corplan Corrections, an Argyle consulting firm, are not new to Willacy County. Both were hired by the county to construct the Willacy County Adult Correctional Center. That year, two former Willacy County Commissioners pleaded guilty to receiving bribes of $10,000 from each company.

Culbertson: Texas has a "very successful private prison industry"

U.S. Congressman John Culbertson said in a budget hearing that Texas has had a "very successful prison industry." 

Culbertson also opined that that Texas has had "Great success...using private contractors" and that those contractors "operate at a significant savings to taxpayers." He also claimed that private facilities provided better food and services overall, and are liable for any issues that may arise. 

Texas Prison Bidness, however, has reported several counter-examples of the "great success" portrayed in the recent BOP budget hearing:

The Corrections Corporation of America's witholding information regarding deaths at the Dawson State Jail,  where a baby girl died prematurely after no medical personnel were assigned to oversee her mother's care;

The repeated sexual abuse and unsanitary living conditions reported at the Texas Youth Commission's Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, run the the GEO Group;

and the lawsuit filed against Reeves County, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the GEO Group following medical neglect that lead to the death of Jesus Manuel Galindo. 

These are only three counter-examples among many that suggest that the "great success" of the private prison industry in Texas is merely a mirage. 

The video of the Bureau of Prisons budget hearing is embedded below. The comments in question begin at 49:34. 






GEO Group to host conference call April 29, 2014

According to the Wall Street Journal, the GEO Group will host an earnings call today, April 29, 2014 at 11:00 am eastern time (10:00 am central) ("The GEO Group Announces Date for First Quarter 2014 Earnings Release and Conference Call," 4/17/14). 

A live audio webcast will be available on the Conference Calls/Webcasts section of the GEO Group website. A webcast audio replay will also be available for one year. 

A telephonic replay will be available from April 29 until May 29. Replay numbers are 1-888-286-8010 (U.S.) and 1-617-801-6888 (International), and the passcode is  39399118. Contact the GEO Group at 1-866-301-4436 with questions. 

CCA to host earnings call on May 8

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has sheduled a first-quarter earnings call for May 8, according to Marketwatch ("CCA Announces 2014 First Quarter Earnings and Conference Call Dates," 4/23/14). 

The conference call will take place at 10:00 am central time (11:00 am eastern) on Thursday, May 8, 2014. The call can be accessed through the CCA website. An online replay will be available following the live conference call, beginning at 1:00 pm central time (2:00 pm eastern) and will be available until the same time on May 16. 

To access the telephonic replay, dial dial 888-203-1112 in the U.S. and Canada. International callers must dial +719-457-0820 and enter the passcode 2158209. 

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