“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

Former CCA employees indicted on bribery charges

The Lone Star News Group reported this week that two former CCA guards have been indicted on bribery charges ("Former prison employees plead guilty to bribery," 5/20/14). 

Carl James Guittard, 36, and Terrie Elaine Glover, 49, were both required to pay a $1000 fine, serve 240 hours of community service, and must serve 10 years of probation. Both were guards at the 2100-bed Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility, which closed on July 30th, 2013 after the Texas Legislature cut its funding. The facility was operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). 

The indictments also claim that 10 people offered or gave money and prepaid debit cards to Guittard, Glover, or both guards. They also allegedly provided tobacco products to people incarcerated at the facility. A state prosecutor has deemed the investigation "extensive." 

Sixteen formerly incarcerated people were indicted in this investigation. 

Willacy County Commissioners "took no action" regarding lawsuit

The Valley Morning Star reported last week that Willacy County Commissioners discussed the lawsuit pending against Houston-based Hale Mills Construction and took no action. The lawsuit first came to light and we wrote about it in our May 2 post. 

Commissioner Eliberto Guerra claimed that the county will take Hale Mills to mediation the lawsuit, which accuses Hale Mills of of "poor workmanship." Management and Training Corporation (MTC), the private prison company that operates the $14.5 million Willacy County Jail and is contracted to house US Marhsals prisoners, is being sued alongside Hale Mills. 

 

KSAT reports: "Privately run prisons profit from detainees"

San Antonio's KSAT reported on the prevalence of private prisons in Texas, particularly in South Texas ("Privately rin prisons profit from detainees," 5/1/14). 

According to the report, over 12,000 people will spend the night in cells at private prisons. There are at least 50 private prisons all over Texas, which incarcerate people for profit. This business model has grown into a $1 billion industry. 

"In south Texas you see one of the greatest concentrations of for-profit prisons of anywhere in the country," according to Grassroots Leadership's Bob Libal.  He continued, "For private prison corporations, every person that's in prison is a dollar sign. Rehabilitation is bad for business; a shrinking prison population hurts the bottom line." 

In 2012, humanrightsfirst.org published a study which indicated that the average per diem cost for one incarcerated person is $164, or $5,000 per month. The company that has the most stake in the private prison industry on the local level is the GEO Group. GEO was initially silent when KSAT contacted them for comment, but the company has since responded

GEO operates many of the large prisons and detention centers in South Texas, including the Central Texas Detention Facility in San Antonio with 688 beds, as well as the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall with 1,904 beds. Pearsall is estimated to make $9 million per month, or $114 million per year. 

Christy, a former GEO employee who worked at Pearsall for two years, is critical of GEO: "It’s all about the money. It not only puts their life at stake, the detainees, but it puts our life at stake too." Christy still has her GEO uniform and ID. She was allegedly fired for being a "bad officer" only after she filed a sexual harassment claim against another officer. She has also allegedly observed the company's habit of cutting corners on equipment, lack of staff, and lack of reports filed regarding violence among incarcerated persons at the facility.

 "GEO would be a good company if they would follow their policies and their regulations," Christy said. 

Christy was unwilling to speak on camera because she fears the GEO Group. 

 

Disagreement between CCA and Hidalgo Park owner ends

According to KEYE TV in Austin, there has been a disagreement between the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Manoj Naik, the owner of Hidalgo Park in Taylor, Texas. 

Naik claims that he wishes to hold special events, like weddings and quinceneras, at the park, and would like to host rodeos at the venue as well. 

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), who owns the T. Don Hutto Detention Center adjacent to Hidalgo Park, was not pleased with Mr. Naik's intentions. Prison officials declined to speak on camera, but claimed that late-night live music events held at Hidalgo Park could endanger the women detained at the facility.  

Naik claims that CCA is holding his business "hostage" with demands. He also says he has spent $25,000 to comply with CCA's and the city of Taylor's requests.

Jose Orta, president of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens LULAC , has responded to the feud: 

"I believe Mr. Naik is being bullied by Correctional Corporation of America... They're impeding him by creating barriers." 

Orta brought these concerns to interim city manager Jeff Straub, who asserted that the city's objective was to mediate the situation. 

A Special Use Permit (SUP) was reviewed by the Taylor City Countil on April 24 and was issued to Mr. Naik on May 8 after he negotiatiated with the city of Taylor and CCA. 

 

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