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GEO Prisoner Riots Could Cost Reeves County More Than $1 Million

The two riots in past two months at the GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center that have injured inmates, resulted in guards being taken hostage, and destroyed much of the the facility were apparently sparked by lack of medical care at the facility and several inmate deaths. Now, the county may be on the hook for over $1 million in repairs to the prison, according to an article for KRISTV.com ("West Texas prison riots cost county $1.1 million),

Family Members Protest GEO Group in Reeves County

Family members of immigrant prisoners held at the GEO Group's troubled Reeves County Detention Center protested on Thursday against conditions at the prison, according to a video post at Permian Basin 360 ("Family Members of Inmates at the Reeves County Detention Protest," February 12),

Family members started protesting outside the Pecos Courthouse early this morning. They denounced the prison’s management by chanting shut GEO down, and holding signs up.

Then, they moved their protest to the Reeves County Detention Center to see if they could get any word on their family members inside. But, it didn’t go the way they wanted. “We want GEO out completely out. We want the federal government to run our prisons,” protester Maria Reynaga said. These protesters came to Pecos on Thursday with questions. “They pay more attention to dogs in the animal shelter. How come they can't do that to our prisoners? There not animals...there prisoners...they're human beings," a protester said.

Some traveled as far as Oklahoma City to in Pecos today to be the voice outside, of the prisoners inside. "Things are pretty bad inside they have him in cells that still have odor of the smoke and everything and they have them with out clothes. They are giving them cold food," Reynaga said.

Juan Angel Guerra an attorney representing about 200 of the inmates was hired by all people protesting today. But, Guerra still hasn’t been allowed inside the prison to meet with his clients. "We are just asking them to let Juan Guerra in and so he can see our prisoners so he can bring us news about them. We are very worried about them, “Reynaga said. “This would of never happened in a government run prison or state run prison. This is what happens when a private prison like GEO is making billion of dollars," Guerra said. 

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Reeves County Refuses Access to GEO Prison to Attorney Juan Guerra

Former Willacy County attorney Juan Guerra is holding a rally today in Pecos, home to the GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center, where two riots in the past two months were allegedly caused by protests of poor medical care and deaths at the facility. Guerra is representing several hundred inmates at the facility, and the rally was meant to highlight concerns of families of those prisoners, many of whom will be joining him at the prison today.

However, the Reeves County Attorney has denied access Guerra access to the troubled facility and his clients, according to an article in the Valley Morning Star ("Guerra denied access to Pecos prisoners," February 11),

County lawyers in this West Texas city have told attorney Juan Angel Guerra that he cannot meet with his clients inside a prison plagued by riots.

In a letter sent to Guerra, Willacy County's former district attorney, Reeves County officials state that his visit would be unsafe. "We are doing everything possible to meet your request," Reeves County Attorney Alva Alvarez wrote. "However, since the facility was destroyed, there is no secure place for you to meet with your clients at this time."

Before receiving notice of the county's decision, Guerra headed to the Reeves Detention Center in Pecos, which is managed by the GEO Group. Guerra said he would file a request to a federal judge to gain access to nearly 200 clients. In her letter, Alvarez said the county hopes to accommodate Guerra in the near future.

See our previous coverage of the Reeves County Detention Center:

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Strike Averted at GEO's South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall

A strike at GEO Group's Pearsall immigrant detention center was narrowly averted this week after close vote of union members, according to an article from KRIS TV ("Strike averted at South Texas detention center," February 11),

Guards at one of the nation's largest immigrant detention facilities have approved a new labor contract rather than strike.

Union workers at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall ratified the new deal late Wednesday that union leaders say promises improved equipment and increases the likelihood of wage increases. Chief union negotiator Howard Johannssen said the new three-year contract passed by a slight margin but declined to release the vote.

Negotiations with The GEO Group Inc. had been ongoing for months. Guards threatened to walk off the job unless a deal was reached this week, and brought about 100 picketing signs to the negotiating table.

About 1,400 detainees are being held at the South Texas facility because of their immigration status, and more than 300 workers there are union members.  A strike would have been the latest problem in Texas for GEO, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based private contractor disrupted by two recent inmate riots at a West Texas federal prison.

GEO's Reeves County Detention Center on Fire Again

The GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center caught on fire again earlier today, according to a story on KWES ("Fire out at Reeves County Detention Center," February 5).  

A fire that erupted at the Reeves County Detention Center is out, but still smoldering.

The fire started Thursday morning in a recreational facility at RCDC. It is believed the recreation facility is part of building II. NewsWest9's Victor Lopez reports that the fire is out and fire crews were still on the scene. Some smaller fires started in a yard at the prison were also out.

Prisoners started rioting at the facility this past weekend. Inmates and family members of inmates have told NewsWest9 they are demanding better healthcare. At that time, three inmates were hurt, but those injuries were described as minor.

The fire started Thursday morning in a recreational facility at RCDC. It is believed the recreation facility is part of building II. NewsWest9's Victor Lopez reports that the fire is out and fire crews were still on the scene. Some smaller fires started in a yard at the prison were also out. 

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Second Riot in 2 Months at GEO's Reeves County Detention Center Leaves Injuries, Significant Damage

The second major riot in two months has left significant damage at the GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center, according to a story by the Associated Press ("Company says Texas prison's damage 'significant,'" February 3),

The company that runs a federal prison in West Texas says "significant" damage from the second riot in less than two months has left the facility unable to resume normal operations.

The GEO Group Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that inmates in two of the Reeves County Detention Center's three units remain under staff view in a central area of the complex. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company says inmates remain "cooperative and compliant" after a riot that started Saturday afternoon.

The company says there have been no serious injuries to staff or inmates.

However, CNN ("Texas riot quelled, inmates damage buildings" February 1) claims that there were at least three inmate hospitalizations, including an inmate with a severed fingers.  The prisoners are apparently protesting for better medical care, according to an AP video story with some dramatic footage ("Company Says Riot at Private Texas Prisons" February 2).  The December riot was based on similar problems with medical care, including the mysterious death of an inmate. 

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