This week, the GEO Group, Inc. ("GEO") announced that it has signed a contract with the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee for the development and operation of a 1,500-bed Detention Facility to house U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) prisoners in Laredo, Texas. The new private prison is scheduled to open in 2008. The contract has an initial term of five years with three five-year renewal option periods, for a total contract term of 20 years.
Currently, Texas operates more than 12,000 proposed or recently constructed private prison beds. The majority of these beds are intended to house federal detainees from the USMS or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There are a few exceptions including the Reeves County Detention Center, a facility that received a contract to house incarcerated immigrants from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) under a Criminal Alien Requirements (CAR) contract. Many of these beds are being built or proposed as speculative prison beds, but several thousand are being built on contract from the ICE and USMS.
The expansion of immigrant detention facilities significantly increased in Texas due to changes in federal immigration policy. The number of unauthorized immigrant detainees has exploded from 6,785 in 1994 to over 22,000 in 2006.