On December 4, Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families released a report lsiting the reasons why the Polk County Detention Center in Livingston, Texas still needs to be closed. The report was released at the Federal Building in downtown Austin.
During our organizations' tour of Polk in September, we were able to interview 24 men who are detained at Polk by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Based on the men's responses, we were able to compose a list of the top ten reasons why Polk should be closed, including lack of access to basic medical care, legal services and recreation. A copy of our report can be viewed here.
More updates will follow in the near future about our campaign to close Polk. Please stay tuned for how you can support us as we stand in solidarity with our incarcerated community members.
Musicians and immigrant rights advocates will return to the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas on Sunday, December 1 for a protest concert. Hutto is the Corrections Corporation of America-operated immigrant detention center that gained notoriety as a family detention center in from 2006-2009. The facility now detains primarily asylum-seeking women.
Austin-area musicians Son Armado, Kiko Villamizar and Krudas Cubensi will perform for the women held at the immigrant prison starting at 11 a.m. Women held inside Hutto have reported to volunteer visitors that they can hear protesters from inside the facility. "They can hear us in there and our spirit will be felt also," said Kiko Villamizar, who will be performing starting at noon.
This is the second protest concert at Hutto in recent years.
The protest concert is organized by Texans United for Families (TUFF), who are also sponsoring a winter clothing drive to respond to reports from inside Hutto that the facility is not properly heated in the winter months.
Find more information on Facebook.
Texas Prison Bid'ness is happy to welcome new blogger Cristina Parker to our line-up. Cristina is the Immigration Projects Coordinator at Grassroots Leadership, one of the sponsors of Texas Prison Bid'ness.
Cristina was most recently working with the Border Network for Human Rights and the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance on projects that included documenting human rights abuses in border communities and fighting against Arizona-copycat legislation in Texas, among others.
Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina attended the University of Missouri where she earned degrees in journalism and political science. Read more about Cristina at her blogger page.
Mongtomery County has decided to sell the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility to Florida-based GEO Group, according to county Judge Alan B. Sadler ("County to Sell Mental Health Facility to GEO," 11/9/13).
According to the article, county commissioners first put the 100-bed facility on the market in June. The minimum bid for the facility was $35.8 million. Though the GEO Group bid only $35 million at that time, discussions between the two entities continued, despite the county's rejection of GEO's bid in July of this year.
Assistant County Attorney B.D. Griffin predicts that he will present a final arrangement between Montgomery County and GEO at the upcoming Commisioners Court on November 18. According to Griffin, "There were a lot of revisions. It took some time."
The mental health facility, was first opened in 2010. Though it cost $33.8 million to build, it was appraised at $22 million.
GEO Group, according to the article, purchased the Joe Corley Detention Center in May, which cost GEO $65 million and generated $22 million in revenue for the county. The mental health facility, however, will not generate revenue; the facility's sale will initially cost the county $2 million to $4 million. Sadler claims that the agreement guarantees that the hospital's total debt will be paid in full, including any voiding of bonds.
"It allows us to pay off the certificates of obligation used during construction," Griffin claimed.
The GEO Group's interest in the mental health facility is connected to the company's health care division, GEO Care, which provides mental health treatment and management services for civil, forensic and special-needs psychiatric patient populations.
The medium-security jail is actually right next door to the mental health facility. Both are located on Hilbig Road in Conroe. GEO has also announced that it seeks to build an additional facility on Hilbig Road, with a capacity between 1,000 and 1,500.