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Lives lost in ICE custody

At least six people have died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October 2016, reports Fusion.

During Fiscal Year 2017, which started on October 1, 2016 and lasts until the end of September 2017, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported the deaths of six individuals in their custody. Two of those individuals were held in Texas detention centers until their untimely deaths.

Olubunmi Toyin Joshua, from the United Kingdom, had been detained in the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, Texas. She had been detained in the detention center for more than eight months before her death. ICE did not disclose a cause of death. The Rolling Plains Detention Center is operated by the for-profit, private prison company Emerald Company.

Wenceslau Esmerio Campos was a Brazilian national who had been detained at the South Texas Detention Complex outside of San Antonio. Wenceslau was taken to the Frio County hospital after complaining of chest pains to prison officials. He was then taken to Methodist Hospital of San Antonio, where he died. His preliminary cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest. The South Texas Detention Center is operated by the GEO Group, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S.

According to Fusion, there were 12 in-custody deaths reported during Fiscal Year 2016; in Fiscal Year 2015, seven people died in ICE custody.

ICE closing Haskell County Detention Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is moving detainees from the Rolling Plains Jail and Detention, causing the facility to close, reports KTAB/KRBC in Abilene.

The detention center, located in Haskell County, is a private prison for immigrants operated by corrections sector of Emerald Companies. ICE said they were “not happy with the current management company,” and so they will be moving detainees over the next to weeks to a new facility. The facility to which they are moving inmates is located in Alvarado Texas, where Emerald operates another detention facility, the Praireland Detention Center.  

County Judge David Davis assured residents in a press release that ICE had not pulled the contract with the Rolling Plains Jail and Detention center. He told residents that ICE still needed beds and if the county could find a new operator, ICE would continue to contract with the facility. While they look for a new operator, county officials are working with other counties to house prisoners from the Haskell County Jail, which is located inside the detention facility.

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ICE detainee dies away at West Texas hospital

A statement released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that a woman from the United Kingdom in the custody of ICE has died in a West Texas hospital in Haskell.

Olubunmi Toyin Joshua, 54, detained in the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, Texas, was found unresponsive in her cell the night Oct. 24 and was immediately taken to Haskell Hospital. Her cause of death will be determined by a pending autopsy. Joshua is the first detainee to die in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017, though not the first to die in ICE custody in 2016. 11 people have died in ICE custody in 2016.

The Rolling Plains Detention Center is operated by the Emerald Company, a for-profit prison company.

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Cleveland, TX mayor and residents successfully oppose new detention facility

On August 18, Cleveland, TX Mayor Niki Coats announced at a city council meeting that a private prison operator had withdrawn plans to build a new immigrant detention facility. 

Cleveland Mayor Niki Coats
Cleveland Mayor Niki Coats

The news drew cheers from more than two dozen residents who showed up to protest. 

One week earlier, private prison contractor, Emerald Companies, had asked the city for a letter of intent. Coats refused to sign, saying, "It's not the kind of growth in the community we need."

Coats later explained that Emerald withdrew the plan claiming they had another location in mind. 

When the Cleveland Advocate asked other Texas county judges about the impact on counties of building immigrant detention facilities, Polk County Judge Sidney Murphy had this to say:

"According to Murphy, in Polk County, the IAH Detention Facility operated by MTC of Utah and built a little more than 10 years ago is required to pay the county a per diem fee per inmate. However, the population of the 1,000-bed facility is so low, with only 300 beds being used, it is no longer generating any income for the county.

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