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County Judge says family detention center is still an option

The application for a family detention center in San Diego is still pending, despite a court ruling against the state licensing family detention centers as child care facilities, reported Caller-Times of Corpus Christi.

Duval County Commissioners voted in July to begin contract negotiations with Serco, a UK-based private prison company, to turn an old nursing home facility into a family detention center. This decision came about after Jim Wells County decided against entering into a contract with Serco over the nursing facility, which sits in both Jim Wells and Duval counties.

The contract from Duval County is still pending following the court decision by District Judge Karin Crump that invalidates the rule that Texas Department of Family and Protective Services used to license family detention facilities as child care facilities. This decision impacts the  South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, and the Karnes County family detention. These facilities are operated by the private prison companies CoreCivic (formerly CCA), and GEO Group, respectively.

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Judge issues final judgement preventing licensing of Texas family detention centers

According to a press release from Grassroots Leadership, an Austin judge has issued a final judgement on a lawsuit by immigrant families to stop the licensing of family detention facilities in Texas.

The decision by Judge Karin Crump of the 250th District Court will effectively prevent the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from issuing licenses to the nation's two largest family detention centers - the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas and the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas. Both of these facilities are run by private prison corporations, with the Dilley facility run by CoreCivic (formerly CCA), and Karnes operated by GEO Group.

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ICE bans Crayons at Karnes County Residential Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is restricting young children in an immigrant detention center from playing with crayons, reports the Guardian.   

The restriction comes after staff members at the Karnes County Residential Center accused the children of destruction of property. A spokeswoman for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said the detention center staff enforced the ban after accusing children of damaging a table while their parent received legal advice. In a statement, ICE said that the children caused property damage to the contractor.

Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group, a for-profit prison corporation. Since last November, GEO has made over $57 million from the center, as reported by the San Antonio Current.

A spokesperson from GEO said that crayons were allowed in other sectors of the facility, but not in the visitation area. However, some parents are already noticing the difference in their children from not being able to use crayons during visitation. One 23-year-old detained mother said banning her children from drawing with crayons was already having an adverse effect.

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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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Ex-prison supervisor gets prison for sex with inmate

KLTV reported that a federal judge has sentenced a former supervisor at a private prison to a little over a year in federal prison for having sex with a federal prisoner under their supervision. 

A federal judge sentenced Leticia Garza to 13 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Garza was the supervisor of laundry, property, and supply at Val Verde Correctional Facility, which is operated by private prison corporation GEO Group. 

The sentence could have been up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. 

The Val Verde Correctional Facility is a Criminal Alien Requirement prison, which is under contract with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to detain non-U.S. citizens. It has a history of prisoner assault and contraband smuggling. Since it is contracted with the BOP, the Department of Justice's decision to phase out private prisons will affect this facility.  

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GEO faces lawsuits over Justice Department's plan to end private-prisons

GEO Group, a private-prison corporation, faces lawsuits after the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to end the use of private-prisons, reported the Sun Sentinel. 

Multiple shareholders lawsuits have been filed against GEO Group, alleging violations of securities laws. The lawsuits are are on behalf of investors who purchased stock between March 2012 and August 12th of the same year. These lawsuits are the newest of a growing list of shareholders who allege that GEO made false or misleading statements and failed to disclose that GEO's facilities lacked proper security and safety standards and that they were less efficient than Bureau of Prison run facilities. The lawsuits also claim that GEO did not inform shareholders that the DOJ was unlikely to renew private-prison contracts. 

 

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The Brownsville Herald supports DHS review of private prisons

A Texas newspaper has come out in support of the Dept. of Homeland Security's (DHS) review of private prison contracts. The Brownsville Herald came out to say that they had called on Secretary Johnson and the DHS to review their private prison contracts, much like the Dept. of Justice did. The newspaper continued by saying: 

"We applaud Secretary Johnson for recognizing that failures in for-profit run prison facilities could also extend to for-profit immigration detention facilities, such as the large holding facilities in South Texas in Dilley and Karnes City.

We encourage the Homeland Security Advisory Council to investigate thoroughly all for-profit facilities operated under Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure they meet humanitarian standards and U.S. detention facility protocol. Charges by former immigrant detainees and numerous immigration advocacy groups that immigrant mothers in these for-profit facilities are denied access to their children, put in isolation, denied medical care or psychological help are disturbing and should not be condoned."

The paper then went on to invite the members Homeland Security Advisory Board, who will review private prison facilities and their contracts, to come to Texas to visit in person the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, which is run by Corrections Corporation of America, and the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City run by the GEO Group.

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The McAllen Monitor supports DHS review of private prisons

A Texas newspaper’s editorial board has come out in support of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) review of private prison contracts. The McAllen Monitor Editorial Board has previously called on DHS Secretary Johnson and the DHS to review their private prison contracts.

The editorial board also asked DHS to do more, saying:

We applaud Secretary Johnson for recognizing that failures in for-profit run prison facilities could also extend to for-profit immigration detention facilities, such as the large holding facilities in South Texas in Dilley and Karnes City.

We encourage the Homeland Security Advisory Council to investigate thoroughly all for-profit facilities operated under Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure they meet humanitarian standards and U.S.. detention facility protocol. Charges by former immigrant detainees and numerous immigration advocacy groups that immigrant mothers in these for-profit facilities are denied access to their children, put in isolation, denied medical care or psychological help are disturbing and should not be condoned.


The paper urged members Homeland Security Advisory Board, who will conduct the review, to come to Texas to visit in person the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, which is run by Corrections Corporation of America, and the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City run by the GEO Group.

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Shares in private prisons drop after DHS announces review

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will evaluate whether the agency should continue contracting with private corporations to run their immigrant detention facilities. According to Fortune, shares in both Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) and GEO Group both dropped after the announcement.

The evaluation of privately-run prisons comes following the Department of Justice's decision to phase out their use of private prisons. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Sen. Raul Grijalva asked DHS in a letter earlier this week to end the practice of contracting with private-prison companies.

Texas communities brace for private prison elimination

The Dept. of Justic's (DOJ) announcement to phase out private prisons has left communities in Texas, including Eden and Big Spring, worried about how it will impact their communities, reported the Standard-Times

Though the closure of the detention center would affect Eden the most, many employees at the detention center commute from surrounding areas. According to the Big Spring Economic Development page, the Big Spring Correctional Center employs about 550 people, thought it is not clear if they are commuters or live in Big Spring. 

The DOJ announcement said that privately run prisons "compare poorly" to government-run institutions. 

The Eden Detention Center has had several riots during its time of operation, including a protest over treatment of inmates in July. The Big Spring facility had a riot during 2008, which caused around $1 million in damagaes, and also unrest in 2011, when inmates attacked staff. 

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