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GEO Group closes purchase of Community Education Centers

The GEO Group, a private prison company, has finalized the purchase of Community Education Centers, reports Seeking Alpha.

As reported earlier, GEO Group spent $360 million in an all-cash transaction to purchase Community Education Centers (CEC), another for-profit prison company that owns or manages over 12,000 beds in jails and detention centers. CEC operated 8 different facilities in Texas, where there have been wrongful deaths, contraband in jails, and breakouts from their facilities.

 

GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the United States, did not purchase CEC to revamp or improve the facilities however. Facilities operated by GEO Group have their own history of mistreatment, including sexual assault, prisoner suicide attempts, and smuggling drugs into the facilities. GEO Group is expecting a revenue boost of $250 million.

This isn't the first time that GEO has bought out a competitor. In 2010, they bought Houston-based Cornell Companies for $374 million. Then in 2015, GEO purchased a smaller private prison company, LCS Corrections, for another $350 million. These purchases, along with the recent purchase of CEC, give GEO a huge hold on prisons in Texas.

GEO Group spend $360 million on acquisition of Community Education Centers

The GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the US, has just brokered a deal to expand their brand even more. According to Reuters, the GEO Group spent $360 million dollars in an all-cash transaction to acquire Community Education Centers (CEC), another private prison company which also operates in Texas. The report states that GEO will integrate CEC into GEO Corrections & Detentions and GEO Care, which will give GEO Group an even stronger hold on private prisons here in Texas. The transaction is set to increase GEO Group's total annual revenues by approximately $250 million.

Facilities operated by Community Education Centers have faced multiple lawsuits and allegations of sexual abuse. Guards from the facilities have also been sentenced to jail for bribery and indicted for attempting to bring drugs into the facility.

While some may think that CEC being bought by GEO may lead to improvements in care & how facilities are run, it is highly unlikely. Facilities run by GEO Group have experienced prisoner escapes, inmates committing suicide, and have faced lawsuits for the mistreatment of prisoners. GEO Group was even indicted in the murder of one of their prisoners who was scheduled to be released four days before his death.

Some people may think that changing names or companies can improve a situation, but it doesn't help if the underlying issues of private prisons are not taken into account.

Limestone County signs new agreement to fill private detention center

A new agreement between Limestone County and the U.S. Marshals Service will help fill the county's privately run detention center, reports KWTX 10.

LaSalle Corrections, the Louisiana-based private prison company that operates the facility, signed a new contract with Limestone County last summer to take over operations of the facility. Due to the facility being closed for a few years, LaSalle said it needed to renovate the facility before the company could bring in prisoners from nearby counties. The facility then reopened when the first group of 17-year old prisoners from Harris County transferred to the facility.  

County Judge Daniel Burkeen said officials are "the most encouraged in years" that the facility will be filled once again. A group of prisoners were recently brought to the newly reopened facility last Friday, though numbers of prisoners at the facility are still low. Staff at the facility are currently working to renovate empty buildings so they can be ready for future use. The facility has the capacity to detain 1,000 prisoners.

County Judge Burkeen then said that the agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service will also open the door for immigrant prisoners detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be detained at the facility.

The detention center in Limestone County has had various operators over the years, with both Community Education Centers (now owned by GEO Group) and Management and Training Corporation having been in charge of the facility at one point.  

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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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Ector County Year in Review: Private prisons weren't the only thing that stank

Ector County Courthouse
Ector County had to deal with more waste and smells than they were originally planning on during 2016, reports the Odessa American.

In March of 2016, it was reported that the Ector County Courthouse was dealing with sewage leaking into offices, putting both workers and official documents at risk. This is because on the floor above the courthouse is the Ector County Correctional Center, the jail operated by  private prison company Community Education Centers (CEC). Poorly maintained sewage pipes had been clogged by inmates, which led to bursting pipes.

The problem caused some dispute as some in Ector County wanted CEC to pay for some or all of the repairs needed. CEC offered to pay only a certain amount for damages caused. Some county commissioners approved of asking CEC pay for damages, while others thought it would make the county look like “adversaries” to the private prison company.

Another issue Ector County dealt with this year was a reported problem of bird excrement. Birds enjoy roosting in the honeycombs of the Ector County Courthouse and have created a mess. The county reportedly is going to install machines that will spray a grape mist to keep the birds away from the courthouse. It seems the birds know what a mess the jail inside is, and want the outside to match. One would hope that they are able to solve the problem, or else Community Education Centers may have to clean up more than just sewage.  

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Limestone County Detention Center is back in business

The Limestone County Detention Center in Groesbeck, Texas, is now officially back in business, as reported by KWTX.

As reported earlier, Limestone County signed a new contract with LaSalle Southwest Corrections, a private prison company. The contract saw LaSalle take over the prison and renovate it before moving 55 Harris County juvenile prisoners  into the newly opened prison. As stated when the contract was announced, the Limestone County Detention Center will be used to detain 17-year old Harris County inmates. While there are only 55 in the renovated center now, Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen believes that hundreds more will be moved to the facility after the first of the year. The warden, Charles Vondra, said that the population should grow to about 600 or 650 inmates.

In 2013, the Limestone County Detention Center was under contract with Community Education centers, another private prison company. The contract was ended by the Bureau of Prisons, though no reason was given as to why. Before the contract expired, Limestone County commissioners began looking at bids from other private companies to operate the facility. In May of that same year, Limestone County awarded a new contract to Management and Training Corporation (MTC), a Utah-based private prison company.  However, nothing came from the contract, with MTC saying that would be closing the center once all prisoners had been transferred. Eventually, there were no prisoners incarcerated at the facility, with MTC trying to find other contracts to fill their beds. When none were found, the facility was closed down until further need. Apparently that time has now come.

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Ector County decides to extend jail contract

Ector County commissioners decided on Monday to extend the jail contract with Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC) to operate the jail located in the Ector County courthouse, reports the Odessa American.

As we reported earlier, Ector County commissioners met to determine whether or not to extend the jail contract with CEC after a myriad of problems had plagued the jail. At the meeting on Monday, commissioners agreed to extend the contract with CEC until August of 2020.

They also approved of money from CEC to go to repairing the sewage system that has led to leaks in the county offices located below the jail. This has been an issue since March of 2016, with county commissioners at odds over how to handle the payment of repairs. That issue has been resolved, with the contract approved by the county including a one-time payment of $150,000 for pipe repairs. Precinct 1 commissioner Eddy Shelton said that CEC would also pay for materials that were damaged by the leaking sewage.

The deal extends the contract until August of 2020 with the county receiving between $600,000 and $650,000 each year from the jail. CEC also agreed to increase the fee paid to commissioners if the company receives an increased per diem amount from the U.S. Marshals, which contracts with CEC at the facility.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons hopes that the company will get $4 or $5 more per day for each prisoner, which could create an increase of between $160,000 and $200,000 a year. Community Education Centers, Inc. has yet to sign the contract extension.

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Commissioners to consider jail extention

Ector County Courthouse
According to the Odessa American, Ector County commissioners are considering an extension with Community Education Centers, Inc. to keep a federal jail in the Ector County courthouse.

Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC) is a for-profit prison company that has been operating the jail inside the Ector County courthouse. In March of 2016, water and sewage began to leak from the jail into county offices, putting many official documents at risk and creating an unpleasant and potentially risky work environment for the employees. The water and sewage resulted from faulty pipes that had been blocked by federal inmates in the jail.

Ector County commissioners then instructed the maintenance team from the courthouse to seek help from CEC on repairs to the sewage pipes. CEC said that they would spend up to $15,000 on the repairs, even though the project was estimated to cost between $3 and $4 million. The county was working on an agreement with the company to pay for the damages, with the county judge proposing to send a demand letter to CEC for the cost of the damages. However, Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons said that the demand letter may send the wrong message to the private prison company. At the October 24th meeting, Simmons said, "I just don’t want it looking like we’re adversaries, ... It’s like somebody bumping into your car and agreeing to pay for it, then you hire a lawyer."

The agreement that Ector County hopes to renew for the federal jail was previously signed in July of 2015. As of now, there is no report on how long the extension will be.   

 

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Ex-Waco jail employee arrested for orchestrating inmate fight

A former Jack Harwell Detention Center employee was arrested last week after being accused of orchestrating a fight between two inmates, reports The Eagle.

Wesley James Gillispie was arrested Wednesday, with the arrest affidavit stating that he misused his authority as an employee at Jack Harwell. Gillispie allegedly gave one inmate access to the housing area of another, who was supposedly “picking on” Gillispie. He gave access for the “sole purpose of having the first inmate assault” the inmate who was “picking on” Gillispie. It is not clear whether Gillispie was fired or resigned, but the detention center has said that he is no longer employed there.

The Jack Harwell Detention Center is a privately run prison that is operated by LaSalle Corrections. The center has a history of sexual assault, lack of institutional control, and poor conditions for immigrants detained there. Jack Harwell was previously owned and operated by Community Education Centers until June 2013.

 

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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