“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

ICE detainee dies away at West Texas hospital

A statement released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that a woman from the United Kingdom in the custody of ICE has died in a West Texas hospital in Haskell.

Olubunmi Toyin Joshua, 54, detained in the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, Texas, was found unresponsive in her cell the night Oct. 24 and was immediately taken to Haskell Hospital. Her cause of death will be determined by a pending autopsy. Joshua is the first detainee to die in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017, though not the first to die in ICE custody in 2016. 11 people have died in ICE custody in 2016.

The Rolling Plains Detention Center is operated by the Emerald Company, a for-profit prison company.

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ICE may house undocumented immigrants in private prisons closed by DOJ

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may soon reopen private prisons in Ohio, New Mexico, and Robstown, Texas, as reported by Correctional News.  

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is considering reopening these three facilities to handle an influx of undocumented immigrants reported to be entering the U.S. This move comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would begin phasing out the use of private prisons in the federal prison system.

The facilities in Ohio, New Mexico, and Texas had previously been used exclusively by the Bureau of Prisons, which falls under the jurisdiction of the DOJ. .  However, this comes at a time when the Department of Homeland Security is doing its own review of private prison use, and will decide in the next months whether to continue using private companies to run their immigrant detention centers.

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County judge wary of “looking like adversaries” to private prison company in Ector jail sewage leak saga

According to Odessa American, three Ector County commissioners voted against sending a demand letter to the private prison company Community Education Centers Inc. (CEC) for repairs that are needed for the Ector County courthouse. 

This decision comes after a Monday meeting, where one of the items on the agenda was whether the county should send the letter demanding over $8,500 in repairs to CEC. The Ector County courthouse is in need of repairs after sewage leaked from the Ector County Correctional Facility that is located on the upper levels of the courthouse. The sewage leaked due to faulty pipes that were clogged by the prisoners. 

County Judge Ron Eckert placed the demand letter on the agenda Monday evening, which drew criticism from Commissioner Greg Simmons. Simmons, who is working with CEC on a new lease, said that they "don't want it looking like we're adversaries." However, Eckert said that he wanted to be transparent with county taxpayers and show that they were going after the money. He also said that it was more of a request letter than a demand. 

Commissioners Simmons, Dale Childers, and Armando Rodriguez all voted against sending the letter, even after it was amended to be a request letter.  

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State lawmakers on colleagues in the U.S. Congress: “they've got to fight” DOJ on private prisons

During a tour of South Plain communities, State Rep. Drew Springer and State Sen. Charles Perry told community members that their representatives in the U.S. Congress need to fight private prison closures, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Springer and Perry toured through Post, Jayton, Roby, Aspermont, Haskell, and Throckmorton, where they spoke about a variety of topics, including border security, rural healthcare, and private prisons. Rep. Springer brought up the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility, a private prison run by the Management & Training Corporation (MTC), which is currently in limbo following the decision by the Department of Justice to phase out the use of private prisons.

Springer said that both he and Sen. Perry had recently put out a letter in support of the private prison. He then said "anytime I get a chance to talk to any congressman, I tell them they’ve got to fight this. We need to make sure the Bureau of Prisons gets off of this or at least lay out a plan that says it’s a five-year, 10-year, some sort of phase-out that communities can plan on."

 

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