According to GEO Group's most recent earnings call, the private prison corporation intends to expand the Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, Texas. According to a transcript of the call:
"With respect to recent contract awards, we recently announced a 400-bed contract capacity expansion at our company-owned Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, Texas to 1,900 beds under our existing contract with the U.S. Marshals Service. Under the expanded contract, the U.S. Marshals Service will house up to 1,228 offenders at the center with 672 beds reserved for use by ICE. The 1,900-bed center is expected to generate approximately $38 million in annual revenues."
In Florida, GEO also took control of the 985-bed Moore Haven Correctional Facility and the 1,884-bed Graceville Correctional Facility. Both of those facilities are said to bring a combined $56 million in annual revenue.
The Rio Grande Detention Center has a long and controversial history in Laredo, going back to before its construction when local activists criticized the company's record and nearly derailed the facility's construction. What's more, immigration rights groups, including Grassroots Leadership, have long argued that the US Marshals only needs to incarcerate more immigrants because they are criminally prosecuted under Operation Streamline. Since opening, the facility has also been the subject of a reported riot and a scandal in which facility employees pled guilty to gun smuggling.
This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that a Canadian national had died suddenly while in its custody at the Corrections Corporation of America-run Houston Processing Center. The cause of death is apparently a heart attack or stroke.
According to the report, Peter George Rockwell, 46, who had been in ICE custody since January 30, 2014, fainted at the facility on February 15. Rockwell was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. On February 22, medical staff at the hospital removed Mr. Rockwell from life support as per his family's authorization.
Rockwell, who has been in the United States as a legal permanent resident since 1993, was convicted in July 2013 on two counts of felony evading arrest and was subsequently sentenced to three years of community service. He was ordered to appear in immigration court on January 30 due to his convictions, which served as a potential reason for his removal from the United States. ICE was then contacted by the Canadian authorities, who claimed that Rockwell was wanted for charges in both Ontario and Ottawa.
In 2012, the Houston Processing Center was highlighted by the Detention Watch Network in its Expose and Close report series as amongst 10 of the worst immigration detention centers in the country. The Houston Processing Center was the first CCA facility in the country, opening just over 30 years ago and pioneering the modern private prison industry.
This is the second death this year of an immigrant in ICE custody.
Leon Wilson, a lifelong resident of Dayton, announced his candidacy yesterday for Liberty County Commissioner (The Vindicator,"Wilson Announces Candidacy for Liberty County Commissioner, Precinct 4"). Wilson is running as a Republican for Precinct 4.
If elected, Wilson wishes to bring the Liberty County Jail back under county control and stop the "waste of millions of dollars" associated with privatization.
Liberty County has a troubled financial history with regards to the county jail. The county's efforts to decrease the jail population has been thwarted due to their contract with Community Education Centers (CEC), the company that previously operated the jail, As the jail population decreases, the cost per prisoner increases. 75th District Court Judge Mark Morefield had this to say about the contract:
One (private prison) bid said that if the inmate population goes below 200, the cost per inmate goes from $63 to $68 per day. If we work really hard to decrease the inmate population, the cost will go up to $70 per day...[t]hey are taking all the incentive out of it.
Wilson has served with the Liberty County Police Department, the Liberty County Sheriff's Department, the Department of Public Safety, and the Harris County Attorney's Office and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
The GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, will release its fourth quarter 2013 financial results before the market opens on February 19, according to Market Watch. GEO has also scheduled a conference call and a webcast for 10:00 AM (EST) that day.
The following GEO representatives will host the call: George C. Zoley, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder; Brian R. Evans, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; John M. Hurley, President, GEO Corrections and Detention; and Jorge A. Dominicis, Senor Vice President, GEO Community Services.
In order to participate in the teleconference, contact one of the following numbers five minutes before the start time:
1-888-680-0869 (US) OR 1-617-213-4854
Conference Call Participant passcode: 94725232
Also fill out the pre-registration questionnaire here.
The webcast can be viewed at on the Conference Calls/Webcasts section of GEO's investor relations page. An audio replay of the webcast will be available there for one year.
A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available from February 19 to March 19. The replay numbers are are 1-888-286-8010 (U.S.) and 1-617-801-6888 (International). The passcode for the replay is 27948243.
Questions can be directed to GEO Group at 1-866-301-4436.