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GEO Group buys two facilities in Texas

The GEO Group has bought two more correctional centers in Texas, reports the News-Review

Officials in Maverick and Jones counties confirmed that their closed detention centers have been bought by the for-profit company GEO Group, which runs the most immigrant detention centers in Texas. GEO did at one time operate the facility in Maverick County, but in 2013 there was a disagreement over the contract and how profits were divided up between the company and the county. This led to GEO Group pulling out of the contract, with the county attempting to operate the facility and repay the bonds. They were unsuccessful and the county eventually had to foreclose on the facility. 

GEO Group has steadily worked since 2010 to expand its' influence in Texas by purchasing smaller private prison companies such as Cornell (2010), LCS Corrections (2015), and Community Education Centers (2017). The for-profit company has also recently been awarded a contract to construct a new 1,000 bed detention facility in Texas which is expected to generate $44 million in annual revenue for the company.

The influence isn't a positive one, however, as GEO facilities have a history of wrongful deaths, sexual assault, and locking up children who have cancer.   

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Jones County prison sits empty at a cost of $35 Million

A prison in Jones County built by Community Education Centers for $35 million in local revenue bonds sits empty according to a new story at KTXS ("New Detention Center in Jones County Awaits Inmates," July 15).

County officials have said that they hope to fill the prison with state prisoners even though the state state has adopted various policy reforms (PDF) that have lessened the demand for state prison capacity.  The story is a little murky here -- we will do some digging to see if we can follow the money. From this report ("Jones County officials await word from the state on detention facility funding," Abilene Reporter-News, May 23), it appears that even though policies were adopted to lessen the need for prison space, state authorities were assuming the need for expansion:

"The state approved a contract for the prison to be built in Jones County in 2008. Revenue bonds were approved by the county to pay for construction, which began in May 2009."

In recent years, the Texas prison population has declined and the state plans to close a public prison next month. Jones County officials are looking for contracts to fill their $35 million prison.  It seems that the Governor's office and county officials have phoned folks in California in the hopes of helping that state alleviate prison overcrowding due to a recent Supreme Court order.  But new polling suggests that California voters support easing penalties as a way to address the state's incarceration problem instead of expanding capacity. 

We'll look into this a bit more and update y'all when we get more of the story. 

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