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Joe Corley Detention Center

GEO hoping to keep strong ties in Montgomery County

The Houston Chronicle recently reported on some interesting developments in the Sheriff’s race in Montgomery County.

 

The county is a longtime supporter of big private prison profiteers like the GEO Group, which runs three facilities in the county — the Joe Corley Detention Center, a federal immigration detention facility and the state’s only privately run mental health hospital. In 2013, County Commissioner Mike Meador stated that the company intended to make their community a GEO hub. Considering such an intimate history, it is no surprise that the GEO Group is paying to keep things the way they are in Montgomery County.  

 

As the Republican primary approaches in March, two candidates are vying for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s seat, as there will not be a Democratic opponent. Rand Henderson is a long-time employee of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, serving under out-going Sheriff Tommy Gage, who has endorsed Henderson. His opponent, Jim Napolitano, has a background in the Secret Service and private security and is backed by Montgomery County tea party groups.

 

Henderson’s platform consists of continuing the status quo and the GEO Group has donated $5,000 to Henderson’s campaign. Interestingly, tea party groups in Montgomery County have often been vocal dissenters of private prison contracts in Montgomery County and support Napolitano. We will continue to monitor this race and its outcome.

Immigrant denounces alleged rape at Joe Corley Detention Center

Douglas Menjivar, an immigrant just released from the Polk County Detention Center in Livingston after 22 months in detention, says he was raped in September and October 2013 while detained at the Joe Corley detention center. Joe Corley is an immigrant detention center in Conroe, Texas run by the private prison corporation GEO Group.

Menjivar says he reported the rape to the supervising Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer known only as "Mr. Hernandez," immediately after it occurred, but was ridiculed and called “stupid” for "allowing himself to be raped."

Menjivar officially reported the incident to an ICE doctor in December 2014. The agency concluded its investigation in February, stating that the results of the investigation “do not corroborate the accusation.” However, Menjivar told Semana News that he couldn't provide the names of the four witnesses to the rape because he feard for the safety of his family in El Salvador.

While at the Joe Corley Detention Center, Menjivar participated in a hunger strike last year to call attention to the inhumane conditions at the facility. The hunger strike at Joe Corley was inspired by hunger strikes at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Shortly after protests in June 2014, ICE transferred some of the immigrant protesters detained at Joe Corley to other facilities, but the majority were deported.

Menjivar has been issued an order of deportation but says he fears for his life if returned to El Salvador. Menjivar's attorney appealed to the 5th Circuit Appellate Court to stop his deportation on the grounds that since he does not have a criminal record in this country, he should not be an enforcement priority. Though the legal process has not yet been successful, advocates credit Menjivar's recent release to a congressional letter by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee requesting a stay of deportation. Additionally, due to the danger he would face if deported, the Salvadoran consulate did not issue departure papers, which further delayed his deportation. 

Tacoma Hunger Strike spreads to Texas

Inspired by the hunger strike in Tacoma, two days ago immigrants detained at the Joe Corley detention center in Conroe, Texas began a hunger strike. 

An attorney who spoke with the detained men on March 17 confirmed the following demands: that deportations be halted; detainees be treated justly; stop overcrowding in the cells; end to double judgement for old cases; more nutritious food; better medical care; lower calling prices and better prices in the commissary. 

The strikers' demands at both facilities show the sytemic abuse and neglect on the part of GEO Group, which operates both prisons, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They also wish to emphasize the inhumane nature of the industry in which they are trapped, which places profits ahead of human rights and welfare. Those striking at Joe Corley are facing denial of their asylum cases and force feedings. In spite of that, those at Tacoma have issued words of encouragement for their friends in Texas. 

 

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