In a story earlier this year that reviewed the many examples of private prison companies leaving Texas towns high and dry, Bloomberg Business highlighted the story of the LaSalle Detention Center in Encinal, Texas.
The immigrant detention center was opened in 2004 with almost $22 million in revenue bonds, over the concerns of many local residents who said Emerald Correctional Management LLC of Shreveport, Louisiana, was painting too rosy a picture.
Bloomberg reports that County Judge Joel Rodriguez Jr. said Emerald suddenly pulled out all inmates, leaving the county with empty beds, a leaking roof and almost $20 million in debt issued by the county's public facilities corporation.
“My fear’s always been that this would happen. When this facility was sold to the county, they sold it as a money-making facility that was going to be a great economic boon,” Rodriguez told Bloomberg.
Since then, the county has assumed responsibility for the facility while Emerald still showcases the facility on their webpage. As of the story's publication in August, Bloomberg reports that the 566-bed facility sits almost empty. Encinal has a population of 579 residents.
Emerald’s track record in LaSalle County didn’t scare officials in Shepherd, Texas. The Houston Chronicle reported that the city council voted 4-1 in favor of Emerald’s plans to build the detention center, clearing the way for the company to pursue its bid with ICE.