“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

South Texas officials working to reopen scandal-ridden Willacy County prison

Tent City
Tent City
Willacy officials are working to reopen the troubled Willacy County Correctional Center by winning a new federal, state, or local contract, according to a report by KRGV.

The prison, known as Tent City because of its construction out of Kevlar tents, was destroyed last year after an uprising by immigrant prisoners in protest of conditions at the privately operated facility in February. The prison, run by Management & Training Corporation (MTC), was closed due to significant structural damage causing the relocation of 2,500 federal prisoners and nearly 400 employee layoffs. The economic ripple effect in the area didn't end there, with job losses in the private and government sectors following the prison closure. 

The facility had been operating under "Criminal Alien Requirement" to incarcerate immigrants for the Bureau of Prisons.  

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City devastated after Walmart and private prison closures

The financial fallout from a prison uprising that led to it's closure continues in one Texas town. 

Residents of Raymondville, TX are stunned after the closure of Walmart just 10 months after the Willacy County Correctional Center shut down, according to a report in the Valley Morning Star that links the Walmart job losses to the prison closure. After Walmart closed its doors at the end of January, 110 Walmart employees were left without jobs. This adds to the 400 who lost their jobs at the prison after the Management & Training Corporation pulled out of the facility last year.

Willacy County Correctional Center
Willacy County Correctional Center

Willacy County Correctional Center, a privately operated prison for immigrants, was destroyed after fire and damage left the facility uninhabitable. What began as a peaceful protest against poor conditions, turned into an uprising sparked by violent retaliation from prison guards. 

GEO hoping to keep strong ties in Montgomery County

The Houston Chronicle recently reported on some interesting developments in the Sheriff’s race in Montgomery County.

 

The county is a longtime supporter of big private prison profiteers like the GEO Group, which runs three facilities in the county — the Joe Corley Detention Center, a federal immigration detention facility and the state’s only privately run mental health hospital. In 2013, County Commissioner Mike Meador stated that the company intended to make their community a GEO hub. Considering such an intimate history, it is no surprise that the GEO Group is paying to keep things the way they are in Montgomery County.  

 

Limestone County hopes to re-open private prison

Limestone County’s 1,000-bed private prison has been closed since 2013, but local officials are hoping to change that. Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen is working with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to fill the prison once again with immigrants. 

According to KWTX, the facility closed in 2013 because federal immigration policy shifted to more deportations rather than detention. Community Education Centers ran the prison until March that same year, exiting the contract for unknown reasons. Management and Training Corporation took over, but only operated it for a few months before firing all employees and leaving it empty. The prison will continue to be run by Management and Training Corporation if the feds agree to renew the contract. 

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