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2 private prison guards indicted in Texas

Two ex-guards at a private immigrant detention facility were indicted today in San Antonio, reports KVIA ABC-7.

A federal grand jury indicted Barbara Jean Goodwin, accusing her of having sex with a detainee between February and August of 2016. If found guilty, she faces up to 15 years in prison. The grand jury also accused Ray Alexander Barr of providing methamphetamine and alcohol to prisoners on December 27. If found guilty, he could get up to 20 years in prison.

Both Goodwin and Barr were guards at the Central Texas Detention Facility, located in San Antonio. The facility is run by the GEO Group, which is a private company that operates immigrant detention facilities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Brazilian national dies in ICE custody

A news release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) states a Brazilian national died on November 25 in a San Antonio hospital while in their custody.  

Wenceslau Esmerio Campos had been detained at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas, which is operated by the for-profit company GEO Group. On November 23 he had chest pains and ICE Health Corp officials took him to the Frio County hospital. A short time later Campos was taken to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio due to his life-threatening condition. Though attempts were made to stabilize him, Campos passed away on November 25. He was 49 years old.

Wenceslau Esmerio Campos is one of three inmates who have died in ICE custody since October 1st of this year following the death of an inmate at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. There have also been over 150 deaths in ICE custody since 2003.

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The banks that finance private prison companies

A new report by In the Public Interest uncovers which Wall Street banks finance the private prison industry's two leaders, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporations of America) and GEO Group.

The report shows that six banks have played a role in financing private prisons. Those six banks are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, and U.S. Bancorp. The following are key findings from the report:

  • At the end of June 2016, CCA had total debts of $1.5 billion and GEO Group had total debts of $1.9 billion.

  • CCA and GEO Group have relied on debt financing from banks to expand their control of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems by acquiring smaller companies that provide “community corrections” services, like residential reentry and electronic monitoring.

Private prison stocks surge after Trump election

The stocks of two private detention companies have soared following the election of Donald Trump, reported Bloomberg Markets.

Stocks in CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) rose by as much as 60 percent before leveling off at a 34 percent increase. GEO Group saw an increase of 18 percent in their stock at the time same time. These two companies are seen to benefit from Trump's presidency, as he has vowed to increase the number of deportations, which will lead to the need for more immigrant detention centers. These are often run by private companies such as CoreCivic and GEO Group.

The announcement and following increase of stocks helped turn around some of the losses both companies had experienced following the announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ)  that they would begin to phase out the use of private prisons. The president-elect is most likely to reverse the policy of the DOJ to no longer use private prisons.

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The GEO Group acquires LCS Corrections, expanding their reach in Texas

The GEO Group is set to acquire a smaller corrections corporation, LCS Corrections. The merger could cost GEO up to $350 million dollars—borrowed from their $700 million revolving line of credit—and will add eight new facilities, and 6,500 new beds to GEO’s existing 79,000 bed capacity.

GEO is looking forward to an estimated $75-80 million extra in annual revenue. On LCS's end, the deal will bail them out of nearly $302 million in debt. The deal will reportedly be finalized by the end of this February. 

Controversy over Karnes Commissioners Court approval of GEO expansion

On Decemb

Karnes Commissioners Court
Karnes Commissioners Court
er 1st, the Monday after Thanksgiving, the Karnes County Commissioners Court convened for a rapidly summoned special session on the expansion of the GEO-run family detention center, now called the "Karnes County Residential Center." Though the privately operated prison company has already made record profits in the few months since it was granted a contract to detain immigrant families, they are now asking to more than double the facility's capacity from 600 beds to 1300.

Immigrant advocates and attorneys testified about the humanitarian costs of child detention and the sexual assault allegations filed by women in the detention center that are still being invistigated. Other community members were concerned that GEO is attempting to bully Karnes County into approving the expansion, despite forcing the county to shoulder the burden of investigating sexual assault cases and transporting victims. Some also expressed that many jobs were given to people outside the community and the income the county receives from the prison didn't justify the costs. GEO officials claimed that the county is contractually obligated to approve the expansion.

GEO sued for not responding to allegations of ongoing rape of an inmate

A woman who was incarcerated in a GEO Group operated facility in Eagle Pass is suing the company for undisclosed damages for not responding to her allegations of repeated rape by a guard. The woman, who was awaiting trial, was assigned to work in the kitchen where 27-year-old guard Luis Armando Valladarez raped her several times in a storage closet.Maverick County Detention Center

"The suit alleges that the guard told her not to resist or tell anyone or he’d kick her off kitchen detail, revoke her visitation privileges, remove funds from her commissary account, revoke her phone privileges or throw her in 'the hole.'" It also states that she went to another guard for help, and he disregarded her claim and never reported it to anyone. The GEO Group explicitly states that they have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assaults, but the woman's pleas for help weren't taken seriously until other inmates discovered what was happening to her.

"No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention" premiered in Austin

The newest film by Austin-based filmmaker Matthew Gossage about family detention, "No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention" premiered to an audience of over 80 people in Austin, TX last Friday.

The film, a short documentary running about 30 minutes, gives a brief history of family detention and the coalition that brought it to an end at the T. Don Hutto family detention center. It also follows a mother, Sara, who together with her 7-year-old daughter was detained in the newly opened Karnes Family Detention Center. Sara and her daughter, Nayely, won freedom from Karnes after their lawyer took their story to Grassroots Leadership and the media. Nayely has brain cancer and was not receiving medical inside the Karnes County family detention center, which is operated by the GEO Group.

The film is available for advocacy and organizing groups around the country who want to learn more about family detention and what they can do to bring this practice to an end, once and for all.

Watch the trailer below. If you would like to show the film in your commnunity, email tuff@grassrootsleadership.org

 

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The GEO Group has already seen a return on their investment in family detention

The GEO Group's stock prices hit a new 52-week high this week, reaching $38.69 a share. At a stockholder meeting in August, the company promised increased revenue — a projection of $26 million this year — resulting from the return of family detention to the Karnes County Civil Detention Center in Texas that same month. 

Karnes County Detention Center
Karnes County Detention Center

The Corrections Corporation of America is also profitting from the return of family detention, with the construction on the newest and largest immigrant detention center in the country—the South Texas Family Residential Center—beginning last month in Dilley, TX. CCA reportedly will make $298 dollars per person per day in Dilley. 

Karnes County Family Detention Center becomes the newest site in a long string of human rights abuses against immigrant detainees

The Karnes City Family Detention Center came under intense scrutiny earlier this month when the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and lawyers from the University of Texas School of Law submitted a complaint that guards have been committing “substantial, ongoing sexual abuse” against the mothers being detained.

When the facility—run by the GEO Group—began receiving mothers and their children at the beginning of August, advocates remembered the conditions and trauma that the families detained at the T. Don Hutto facility had to endure from 2006 to 2009On an ICE directed visit to the Karnes facility last month, mothers complained about the severe cold, poor food quality, and the lack of freedom that they and their children experience on a daily basis, a nearly identical description of initial conditions in the Hutto facility.

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