“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 Group spend $360 million on acquisition of Community Education Centers

The GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the US, has just brokered a deal to expand their brand even more. According to Reuters, the GEO Group spent $360 million dollars in an all-cash transaction to acquire Community Education Centers (CEC), another private prison company which also operates in Texas. The report states that GEO will integrate CEC into GEO Corrections & Detentions and GEO Care, which will give GEO Group an even stronger hold on private prisons here in Texas. The transaction is set to increase GEO Group's total annual revenues by approximately $250 million.

Facilities operated by Community Education Centers have faced multiple lawsuits and allegations of sexual abuse. Guards from the facilities have also been sentenced to jail for bribery and indicted for attempting to bring drugs into the facility.

While some may think that CEC being bought by GEO may lead to improvements in care & how facilities are run, it is highly unlikely. Facilities run by GEO Group have experienced prisoner escapes, inmates committing suicide, and have faced lawsuits for the mistreatment of prisoners. GEO Group was even indicted in the murder of one of their prisoners who was scheduled to be released four days before his death.

Some people may think that changing names or companies can improve a situation, but it doesn't help if the underlying issues of private prisons are not taken into account.

Willacy prison could return to original purpose under ICE

Willacy County Regional Detention Facility
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has expressed interest in re-opening the Willacy County Correctional Center, reported the Brownsville Herald.

County officials say that comments from President Trump surrounding increased border security have led to increase interest in immigrant detention centers, as ICE looks for more bed space to detain undocumented immigrants. County Judge Aurelio Guerra said "I’m optimistic we should be able to arrange something out with an operator and a branch of government."

He also said "There seems to be a lot more interest here with this presidential administration. The demand is more toward ICE. Where we are geographically, with our proximity to the border, plays a big role."

However, county officials have yet to make statements on any potential economic impact or the number of jobs created.

The facility was operated by a private prison company, Management and Training Corporation (MTC), for a number of years before losing their contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The contract was canceled following an uprising from the immigrants detained at the facility, who cited poor medical care as one of the reasons that led to them taking over parts of the prison and setting fire.

However, this facility has had numerous problems before the contract was canceled, including prisoners escaping, guards being accused of immigrant smuggling, sexual assault, and others being charged with bribery. Willacy County also went millions of dollars into debt following an expansion of the private prison in 2007, with the eventual closing leading to 400 employees laid off.

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Limestone County signs new agreement to fill private detention center

A new agreement between Limestone County and the U.S. Marshals Service will help fill the county's privately run detention center, reports KWTX 10.

LaSalle Corrections, the Louisiana-based private prison company that operates the facility, signed a new contract with Limestone County last summer to take over operations of the facility. Due to the facility being closed for a few years, LaSalle said it needed to renovate the facility before the company could bring in prisoners from nearby counties. The facility then reopened when the first group of 17-year old prisoners from Harris County transferred to the facility.  

County Judge Daniel Burkeen said officials are "the most encouraged in years" that the facility will be filled once again. A group of prisoners were recently brought to the newly reopened facility last Friday, though numbers of prisoners at the facility are still low. Staff at the facility are currently working to renovate empty buildings so they can be ready for future use. The facility has the capacity to detain 1,000 prisoners.

County Judge Burkeen then said that the agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service will also open the door for immigrant prisoners detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be detained at the facility.

The detention center in Limestone County has had various operators over the years, with both Community Education Centers (now owned by GEO Group) and Management and Training Corporation having been in charge of the facility at one point.  

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Immigration quietly increasing number of migrant families detained

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has quietly been increasing the number of migrant families in their detention facilities in South Texas, reports The Monitor.

The number of migrants who are processed through ICE and released locally has dropped significantly, according to the Sacred Heart Immigrant Respite Center in McAllen. Less than a month ago the center saw around 300 migrants a day, with the center now averaging about 90 people per day. People from the respite center and RAICES believe that the number is based off of the number of beds available in Karnes or Dilley family detention centers, which hold primarily Central American mothers and their children seeking asylum.

Last December, a judge in Austin ruled that the two facilities could not be licensed as child care facilities. During the time of the ruling, there were about 1,700 people in Dilley and 600 in Karnes. RAICES, which provide pro bono legal services at the two centers, said the numbers are now closer to 2,000 in Karnes and 700 in Dilley.

A temporary Customs and Border Protection processing center near the Donna-Rio Bravo Port of Entry may also increase the number of migrants ICE can process. By adding an additional processing center, ICE has another facility to process individuals arriving at the border before they are transferred to a different, permanent detention center. This processing center adds to the 12 detention centers already located south of San Antonio. These, like Karnes and Dilly, are operated by for-profit prison companies that contract with the U.S. government.

 

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