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LaSalle Corrections

Limestone County signs new agreement to fill private detention center

A new agreement between Limestone County and the U.S. Marshals Service will help fill the county's privately run detention center, reports KWTX 10.

LaSalle Corrections, the Louisiana-based private prison company that operates the facility, signed a new contract with Limestone County last summer to take over operations of the facility. Due to the facility being closed for a few years, LaSalle said it needed to renovate the facility before the company could bring in prisoners from nearby counties. The facility then reopened when the first group of 17-year old prisoners from Harris County transferred to the facility.  

County Judge Daniel Burkeen said officials are "the most encouraged in years" that the facility will be filled once again. A group of prisoners were recently brought to the newly reopened facility last Friday, though numbers of prisoners at the facility are still low. Staff at the facility are currently working to renovate empty buildings so they can be ready for future use. The facility has the capacity to detain 1,000 prisoners.

County Judge Burkeen then said that the agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service will also open the door for immigrant prisoners detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be detained at the facility.

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Limestone County Detention Center is back in business

The Limestone County Detention Center in Groesbeck, Texas, is now officially back in business, as reported by KWTX.

As reported earlier, Limestone County signed a new contract with LaSalle Southwest Corrections, a private prison company. The contract saw LaSalle take over the prison and renovate it before moving 55 Harris County juvenile prisoners  into the newly opened prison. As stated when the contract was announced, the Limestone County Detention Center will be used to detain 17-year old Harris County inmates. While there are only 55 in the renovated center now, Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen believes that hundreds more will be moved to the facility after the first of the year. The warden, Charles Vondra, said that the population should grow to about 600 or 650 inmates.

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Supervisor at private jail convicted of supplying contraband to prisoner

 

KFDM 6 of Southeast Texas reports that a federal jury has found a Beaumont, Texas man guilty of giving a prisoner a prohibited item.

Donald Roy Kelly was also found guilty by the same jury of bribery of a public official on December 14. According to the information presented, Kelly was a shift supervisory corrections officer at the downtown Jefferson County Jail, which is operated by private prison company LaSalle Corrections.

Kelly was the supervisor in late 2014 and early 2015, when a high ranking leader of the Gulf Cartel was brought into the jail pending his trial for federal drug trafficking offenses. Kelly then approached them cartel member and offered a cell phone to the prisoner in exchange for money. He then engaged other individuals in helping him with the plan. The cell phone was purchased by another individual who then gave it to Kelly, who in turn gave it to the Gulf Cartel leader. Kelly also worked to bring fast food into the jail for the cartel leader, who had individuals attempt to transfer money into Kelly's accounts for his actions. Kelly now faces up to 15 years in a federal prison, with sentencing happening after a review by the U.S. Probation Office.

LaSalle Corrections is a private prison company that operates multiple for-profit prisons in the state of Texas. LaSalle has a history of failed inspections, inmate escapes, and sexual assault in the prisons they operate.

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Ex-Waco jail employee arrested for orchestrating inmate fight

A former Jack Harwell Detention Center employee was arrested last week after being accused of orchestrating a fight between two inmates, reports The Eagle.

Wesley James Gillispie was arrested Wednesday, with the arrest affidavit stating that he misused his authority as an employee at Jack Harwell. Gillispie allegedly gave one inmate access to the housing area of another, who was supposedly “picking on” Gillispie. He gave access for the “sole purpose of having the first inmate assault” the inmate who was “picking on” Gillispie. It is not clear whether Gillispie was fired or resigned, but the detention center has said that he is no longer employed there.

The Jack Harwell Detention Center is a privately run prison that is operated by LaSalle Corrections. The center has a history of sexual assault, lack of institutional control, and poor conditions for immigrants detained there. Jack Harwell was previously owned and operated by Community Education Centers until June 2013.

 

Limestone County Detention Center to reopen for 17-year-olds from Harris County

The Limestone County Detention Center is to reopen after being closed for three years, reported 10 KWTX

This summer Limestone County signed a new contract with LaSalle Southwest Corrections, a privately owned prison corporation, to run the detention facility. The warden, Charles Vondra, said that the detention center will be used to detain 17-year-olds from Harris County, with a beginning population of about 130. The warden then said the population should grow to 650 inmates. 

Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said the facility has not been used in over three years. Until May 2013, the facility was run by Community Education Centers (CEC), another private prison corporation. CEC pulled out after they lost their contract with the federal government to detain inmates, but county officials had hoped that another private corporation, Management Training Corporation (MTC) would continue to operate and pay rent on the facility. However, after two months of operation, MTC announced that it was closing the center after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they would no longer be sending immigrants detained at the border to the center. ICE instead decided to return them to their home countries. 

The county hopes that reopening the detention center will boost the local economy as well as create new jobs for the area. 

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'I can't breathe': Father begged for help before dying in private jail

Video from a private prison on the Texas-Arkansas-Louisana border showed the distrubing circumstances around the death of a 35-year old man that occurred last July, reported Carbonated.TV. The prison, Bi-State Jail, is privately run by LaSalle Southwest Corrections

Video of Michael Sabbie begging for help. Source: Huffington Post

Michael Sabbie, a father of four, was found dead in his cell three days after his arrest. When he had arrived in court earlier, he said that he was spitting blood and needed to go to the hospital. The video, released by Huffington Post last Wednesday, shows prison guards violently subduing Mr. Sabbie.

The guards flung him to the ground, piled on top of him, and then pepper-sprayed him in the face. A sixth guard joined in and accused him of resisting the other guards, and ignored Mr. Sabbie as he begged "I can't breathe. Please, please, I got pneumonia." He then continued to beg for water as he was examined by a facility nurse, who said his symptoms were normal for someone who had just been hit with pepper spray. He died three days later of 'natural' causes. 

Parents of 20-year old who died in Bi-State jail file suit

According to the Associated Press, and reported by TXKtoday, the parents of a 20-year old Texarkana woman who died in a Bi-state jail this summer have filed a law suit against a nurse who reportedly refused to treat her. The woman's blood sugar level was over 800 when she died on July 1st, according to the law suit. The nurse in question refused to test the woman's blood sugar levels despite multiple high level readings from earlier in the day. The nurse reportedly put glucose (sugar) in the woman's mouth after receiving a reading that said she had high blood sugar levels. 

The law suit said that the investigation by LaSalle Corrections, the private company that operates the Bi-State jail, was inadequately conducted. LaSalle Corrections is in charge of overseeing the medical care at the facility and is involved in the law suit the family has filed. The Bi-state jail is located on the border between Texas and Arkansas, but the lawsuit has been filed in Arkansas, when the family lives. 

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Prisoner dies at McLennan County private jail

The death of a prisoner reported on May 30 at the Jack Harwell Detention Center in McLennan County is under investigation by federal, state, and local officials. The private jail is operated by private, for-profit prison company LaSalle Corrections. 

Litte information is known about the incident, however, a news report stated:

"McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara did not return phone messages Tuesday. Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ricky Armstrong declined comment, saying the inmate was a U.S. Marshals Service prisoner and referring questions to the marshals service.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe Bays also declined comment, saying the matter is under investigation. Bays declined to provide details of the inmate’s death, his or her identity or suspected manner and means of death."

This is not the first prisoner death at this private jail. In February, three former LaSalle Corrections employees were indicted after surveillance video showed that they lied about conducting head counts after a prisoner committed suicide last November. 

 

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Parker County Jail dumps CEC, goes with LaSalle

Parker County has dumped private jail operater Community Education Centers in favor of of the Louisiana-based private prison company LaSalle Southwest Corrections. According to a story in the Weatherford Democrat (Parker County Jail to get new management), the jail will change hands in October:

Ousting the current jail operator, Community Education Centers, Parker County commissioners voted to award the 5-year contract to the Louisiana-based company due to the difference in price. 

The county has the option to renew the contract twice for two-year periods, according to information presented to the commissioners.

As we reported way back in 2007, Parker County privatized its jail at the time citing cost savings.  At the time we quoted a Grits for Breakfast article questioning whether CEC could provide the same services at a discounted price and still make a profit.  

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Advocates claim victory as immigrant detainees are removed from Jack Harwell Detention Center

In July, we reported protests about sub-standard conditions in the Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco, Texas. The facility is privately run by LaSalle Southwest Corrections and was not originally meant for immigrant detention.

Protestors argued that officials denied the detainees basic rights like use of the telephone, reasonable access to visitation, or an adequate legal library. 

The protests by advocates and criticism from attorneys apparently worked.

Norma Lacey, from ICE’s San Antonio Field Office confirmed. "We are currently not utilizing the Jack Harwell facility," Lacy wrote in an email to advocates asking to visit immigrants at Jack Harwell earlier this week. "We can notify you should we need to utilize it again."

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