“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

Questions raised over trans pod at new Alvarado immigrant detention center

A single new immigrant detention center south of Dallas has become the focal point of many issues facing immigrant detention centers, reported the Dallas Morning News.

The new Praireland Detention Center, run by for-profit Emerald Correctional Management LLC, will hold up to 707 immigrants, which includes a special wing for three dozen transgender migrants.  Many activists are worried for the transgender migrant population, and hope that the new facility will have security provisions to keep transgender migrants safe from abuse and sexual assault. Nell Gaither, founder of Dallas-based Trans-Pride Initiative, said that a better solution would be alternative-to-detention programs, such as telephone monitoring or the use of ankle monitors. Although Gaither said that "our preference is that they not hold any trans or queer persons."

In the midst of a presidential election and the public unsure which direction immigrant detention will go, the amount of beds at the facility could change. However, that will not impact the payment that Emerald receives. The contract Emerald has guarantees $89.25 per day for a minimum of 525 beds, regardless of if they are filled or not. “It is a guaranteed minimum revenue stream,” said Emerald CEO Steve Afeman. “Otherwise, how would you get a $60 million facility custom-built.”

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Parents of 20-year old who died in Bi-State jail file suit

According to the Associated Press, and reported by TXKtoday, the parents of a 20-year old Texarkana woman who died in a Bi-state jail this summer have filed a law suit against a nurse who reportedly refused to treat her. The woman's blood sugar level was over 800 when she died on July 1st, according to the law suit. The nurse in question refused to test the woman's blood sugar levels despite multiple high level readings from earlier in the day. The nurse reportedly put glucose (sugar) in the woman's mouth after receiving a reading that said she had high blood sugar levels. 

The law suit said that the investigation by LaSalle Corrections, the private company that operates the Bi-State jail, was inadequately conducted. LaSalle Corrections is in charge of overseeing the medical care at the facility and is involved in the law suit the family has filed. The Bi-state jail is located on the border between Texas and Arkansas, but the lawsuit has been filed in Arkansas, when the family lives. 

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Dept. of Justice urged to investigate ADA violations in Karnes family detention center


Grassroots Leadership reports that an Austin-based immigration attorney has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate why the school inside of the Karnes Family Detention Center is inaccessible to students or others with mobility impairments.

In a September 19 press release, Grassroots Leadership writes:

"Attorney Virginia Raymond, in a September 17 letter to the DOJ Civil Rights Division, described how one of her child clients, who had broken her leg while in detention and uses crutches, was unable to attend the charter school at the Karnes facility due to it being on the second story. There is no elevator at the for-profit detention facility.

The letter goes on to explain that the charter school for the children detained in the facility has been operated by the John H. Wood, Jr. Public Charter School District, but it is unclear if the company still operates it.

Raymond says by being inaccessible to those with mobility impairments, the facility is in violation of at least three federal laws: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Individuals with Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Austin's Chief Acevedo to help review privately-run prisons

Chief Art Acevedo
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is on the 40-person review board that will review the use of privately-run immigrant detention centers in the US, reports the Statesman.

Chief Acevedo and Annise Danette Parker, former mayor of Houston, are the only Texans on the review board. They have been asked to review the use of for-profit corporations in the detaining of immigrants throughout the country. Chief Acevedo will be on a subcommittee to investigate private detention centers, while for mayor Annise Danette Parker's role is unsure. The review must be completed by the end of November. 

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