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Prisoner uprising stopped in Brackettville

A prisoner uprising at a private-prison in Brackettville was stopped with no serious incidents, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

Officials at the Kinney County Detention Center, which is operated by for-profit prison company Community Education Centers (CEC), said that the uprising was quelled without any serious incident, although officials from U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol, and Kinney County Sheriff were called in. CEC operates the prison for the U.S. Marshals, who detain about 400 prisoners at the facility.

A spokesperson from CEC said that about 60 prisoners refused to leave the recreation area and return to their cells, protesting the earlier removal of another prisoner. The warden locked down the unit & then used force and tear gas to disperse the prisoners. According to the Kinney County sheriff, no one was hurt on either side.

This is not the first uprising that has happened in the Kinney County prison. In 2008, another riot required the facility to be put on lockdown. Over the years, CEC has also been subject to multiple lawsuits, including over the deaths of prisoners in their custody.

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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.  

This has been an ongoing issue for the county that we covered in March, September, and earlier this month

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Jail company to work on courthouse in West Texas

Ector County commissioners instructed building maintenance employees to seek help from Community Education Centers Inc. (CEC) on repairs to the sewage system in the courthouse, reported the Odessa American Online. This issue was first reported in March of 2016, when water and raw sewage began leaking from the ceilings underneath the county jail. This put many official documents at risk and created a very unpleasant work environment. 

CEC is the for-profit, private prison company that operates the jail  located in the Ector County courthouse. There is a smell of sewage in the county offices located underneath the jail that CEC operates. The plan to repair the sewage pipes would involve putting smoke inside the pipes and having CEC employees and building maintenance see where the smoke leaked so they could go about repairing the pipes.

CEC said they were willing to spend $15,000 on the project, which is estimated to cost between $3 and $4 million. This would include repairing the pipes and bringing the building up to American with Disabilities Act compliance.  

 

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CEC Corrections Awarded Contract To Operate Jail In Reagan County, Texas

According to PR Newswire, Community Education Centers (CEC), a private prison company, announced the award of a contract with Reagan County to operate the Reagan County Jail in Big Lake, Texas.

The contract was awarded on July 11, but was just announced. It has a contract term of 10 years, with the option of two 5-year extensions. The facility will open on November 7th, and have a bed capacity of 96.

 

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CEC faces wrongful death suit from Dallas family

A Dallas family filed suit this month against New Jersey private prison operator, Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC), after the death of Charles Alvarez. The family alleges that Alvarez was given improper medical care while in custody at the Parker County Jail in Weatherford, Texas. The federal lawsuit names CEC and seven jail staffers as plaintiffs.

Police believe that Alvarez had been assaulted shortly before a Weatherford police officer found him lying in the roadway on North Denton Street on February 7, 2015. However, the officer arrested him on public intoxication charges and took him to the Parker County Jail.

At the jail, Alvarez told officials for 20 minutes that he could not breathe before an ambulance was called. He became unresponsive seconds after an ambulance was requested and CPR performed by jail personnel failed to revive him. Alvarez, 25, was ambulanced to Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth where he died from internal bleeding, multi-organ failure, and heart failure.

The Parker County jury declined to indict anyone in for Alvarez’ death but obtained arrest warrants for two suspects for misdemeanor charges in connection with his assault.

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Two prisoners dead in one week at Liberty County Jail

Two prisoners have been reported dead in a single week at the privately operated Liberty County Jail. 

Liberty County Jail courtesy of CEC
Liberty County Jail courtesy of CEC

 

According to reports, the body of 57-year-old Beverly Mooring was found “in medical distress and non-responsive in a detox cell” on April 15. She was later pronounced dead at the Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center.

Three days later the sheriff’s office received notification that 32-year-old Jeremy Keith Shomo was found dead in his cell after he allegedly hanged himself with a shoelace attached to a shower hook. Shomo’s case is currently under investigation by Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Ungles and the Texas Rangers.

The fate of Liberty County Jail, managed by private company Community Education Centers (CEC), is currently under debate. The county hired a firm to consult on whether it should continue its partnership with CEC to run the jail. The firm, MGT of America, Inc., told Commissioners back in February that the way to save money was to reduce the jail's population to allow for staffing cuts.  

Time to decide is running out. The county’s contract with CEC expires at the end of the month.

 

Consulting firm to Liberty County: It will cost more for the County to run the jail, unless you reduce population


The Liberty County Jail, photo courtesy of CEC.
The Liberty County Jail, photo courtesy of CEC.
The firm hired by Liberty County to consult on whether it should continue a partnership with a private prison company has some advice for commissioners. MGT of America, Inc. told Commissioners last month that the way to save money was to reduce the jail's population to allow for staffing cuts.  

Liberty County hired MGT last year to advise commissioners on whether County Sheriff Bobby Rader should take over direct operation of the jail or leave it in the hands of Community Education Centers (CEC). 

According to YourHoustonNews.com, MGT consultant Travis Miller told Liberty County commissioners that, "the cost of operating the jail remains the same regardless of who is running it, whether it is a private company, the county, or 'Johnny’s Garage and Jail Service.'"

Miller went on to say that the only way to get significant savings would be through a reduction of staff, and that this would require “a huge reduction in the number of inmates.”

But later in the same meeting, Miller said that  that without a reduction in jail population and a resulting reduction in staff, the cost to the county would rise if it took over the jail. Miller said this move would make jail employees eligible for county benefits, (including pensions) potentially costing the county at least $400,000 more. 

Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson, who ran and won on a platform of kicking CEC out of the jail, suggested creating a separate division for jail employees with a different benefits plan.

The county is now waiting to hear more from from MGT. In response to questions about the potential $400,000 increase if the county takes over, Miller told commissioners that MGT "did not yet have a cost-per-inmate figure to present and has not yet looked at the amount the county is currently paying under its contract with CEC."

Miller expects MGT to have its final report, for which the firm was paid $64,000, ready in three weeks. 

Time is of the essence. The county’s contract with CEC expires on April 30.

 

Former guard at Jack Harwell pleads guilty to improper sexual relationship with inmate

A former guard at the Jack Harwell Detention Center, Melissa Corona, has pled guilty to charges of sexual misconduct with one of the inmates. Ms. Corona was indicted in March 2014, after allegations that she began a relationship with a male inmate in 2013 by kissing him more than 10 times.

Ms. Corona was the fifth person to be arrested in 2013 after an investigation into improprieties between staff and inmates. Three other female guards were arrested on charges of sexual misconduct, and a male guard was charged with bringing contraband into the facility.

This is not the first investigation into sexual misconduct at the facility. In fact, Community Education Centers (CEC), the private corporation responsible for the maintenance and staffing of Jack Harwell, is currently facing a lawsuit alleging that the company was grossly negligent by failing to screen, hire, train and supervise its employees to maintain a secure and safe facility. In this case, the allegation is that prolonged sexual misconduct occured between a male guard and a female inmate from November 2012 to March 2013.

The Jack Harwell facility was run by CEC until June 2013, when LaSalle Corrections took over management. Although LaSalle may have won the contract from CEC, the small Louisiana based company doesn’t have a clean record either.

Troubles at the Jack Harwell center are not confined to those held on local charges, either. Until last year, the facility also had a contract to hold detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but was at the center of controversy and protests over substandard conditions for those federal detainees as well. ICE pulled their detainees from the facility shortly after news broke of the conditions. 

Top Texas Private Prison Stories of 2014 - #5 - Rape and other problems plague the Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco

The Jack Harwell Detention Center first made headlines this summer over complaints from attorneys over conditions for immigrants being detained at the facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a letter to ICE, attorneys said the Jack Harwell Detention Center is not an appropriate place to house immigrants in detention and that ICE officials have not done enough to fix serious problems at the facility. They detailed how the Texas Commission on Jail Standards found multiple non-compliance issues at the facility in 2012. “There were strong incentives for the county and the private facility management company to seek contracts with ICE whether or not the facility was appropriate for immigration detention,” the letter said.

This led to protests by Texans United for Families at the facility this summer. They delivered “know your rights” materials to the warden, demanded that the facility be closed and blamed the immigrant detention quota for the problems inside. 

Then in December, a woman who was previously detained at the Jack Harwell Detention Center filed a lawsuit alleging that she was sexually assaulted "on a number of occasions" while incarcerated there from November 2012 to March 2013.

According to the plaintiff in the case, CEC's negligence includes the failure to maintain sufficient staff, especially female staff to search female inmates. The suit also alleges that CEC “fostered an unsafe and relatively uncontrolled environment, which allowed smuggling into the facility, improper relations within the facility and generally created an environment where there was a lack of reasonable institutional control at the facility.”

The Waco Tribune reported that until June 2013, Jack Harwell was run by private prison corporation Community Education Centers (CEC), which is now facing a lawsuit alleging gross negligence that led to the conditions that permitted the assaults to take place.

As for the immigrants held in Jack Harwell, advocates claimed victory when an ICE official told Texas Prison Bid’ness in September that immigrants were no longer being held at the facility. 

CEC faces lawsuit over sexual assault allegation at Jack Harwell

Jack Harwell Detention Center
Jack Harwell Detention Center
A woman who was previously detained inside Jack Harwell Detention Center in McLennan County recently filed a lawsuit alleging the she was sexually assaulted "on a number of occasions" while incarcerated there from November 2012 to March 2013, as reported by the Waco Tribune.

 

Until June 2013, Jack Harwell was run by private prison corporation Community Education Centers (CEC), now facing a lawsuit alleging gross negligence that led to the conditions that permitted the assaults to take place.

 

According to the plaintiff in the case, CEC's negligence includes the failure to maintain sufficient staff, especially female staff to search female inmates. The suit also alleges that CEC “fostered an unsafe and relatively uncontrolled environment, which allowed smuggling into the facility, improper relations within the facility and generally created an environment where there was a lack of reasonable institutional control at the facility.”

 

Sheriff’s Office Capt. M.R. “Bubba” Colyer confirmed that the allegations remain under investigation. The woman has reported the sexual assaults to the county Sheriff, but no arrest warrent has been issued.

 

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