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Limestone County Detention Center

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.

The detention center in Limestone County has had various operators over the years, with both Community Education Centers (now owned by GEO Group) and Management and Training Corporation having been in charge of the facility at one point.  

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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.

In 2013, the Limestone County Detention Center was under contract with Community Education centers, another private prison company. The contract was ended by the Bureau of Prisons, though no reason was given as to why. Before the contract expired, Limestone County commissioners began looking at bids from other private companies to operate the facility. In May of that same year, Limestone County awarded a new contract to Management and Training Corporation (MTC), a Utah-based private prison company.  However, nothing came from the contract, with MTC saying that would be closing the center once all prisoners had been transferred. Eventually, there were no prisoners incarcerated at the facility, with MTC trying to find other contracts to fill their beds. When none were found, the facility was closed down until further need. Apparently that time has now come.

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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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Limestone County still paying bills on empty private prison

In February, we reported that Limestone County officials had hopes of reopening the shuttered Limestone County Detention Center by potentially contracting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The private prison for immigrants, owned by the county and operated by Management and Training Corporation, has been empty since 2013.

On March 24th, according to a report from the Groesbeck Journal, rather than discussing the reopening of the facility, Limestone County Commissioners were asking why the county should be paying invoices for costs associated with the empty prison rather than the prison operator. 

According to the report:

"The county paid three invoices in 2015, totaling $464, but has now received two new invoices, one for $1,250 and another for $40.

“Why should we pay these?” asked Commissioner Pct. 2 W.A. “Sonny” Baker, pointing out that the invoice was addressed not to the county but to a company that ran the prison previously.

Commissioner Pct. 4 Bobby Forrest noted the same thing, that the invoice was marked “Attention: Mike Sutton,” the name of the man who ran the prison for many years through Continuing Education Centers, then later through a company he formed.

The commissioners agreed to delay a decision on paying any more invoices until they are certain it's a final bill. 

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Limestone County hopes to re-open private prison

Limestone County’s 1,000-bed private prison has been closed since 2013, but local officials are hoping to change that. Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen is working with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to fill the prison once again with immigrants. 

According to KWTX, the facility closed in 2013 because federal immigration policy shifted to more deportations rather than detention. Community Education Centers ran the prison until March that same year, exiting the contract for unknown reasons. Management and Training Corporation took over, but only operated it for a few months before firing all employees and leaving it empty. The prison will continue to be run by Management and Training Corporation if the feds agree to renew the contract. 

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Long time LCDC warden will run prison after MTC backs out

After seeing mixed signals from the Limestone County Detention Center operator back in July, Management and Training Corporation (MTC) has officially backed out of their contract with the county.

In response, county officials have opted to allow Mike Sutton to step in and run the prison on an interim basis. Sutton served as the warden and administrator of Limestone County Detention Center for 13 years before CEC lost their contract in March 2013.

We reported back in May 2013 that Sutton actually put in a bid to run the prison under a company named Detention Management Services after CEC's exit, but he was beat out by MTC.

Now with MTC's departure, Sutton will run the prison afterall, at least for now. 

 

Limestone County awards new contract to MTC

Limestone County officials selected a new operator, Management and Training Corporation (MTC), to run the Limestone County Detention Center after Community Education Centers (CEC) lost their contract in March.  

The Utah-based private prison company, MTC, will run the 1,000-bed facility, mostly to house federal immigrant prisoners.

MTC beat out 3 competitors for the contract, including Detention Management Services, a company seemingly created by Limestone County Detention Center warden and administrator Mike Sutton, who ran the prison for the past 13 years. Sutton told county officials during the bidding process that, as a stopgap measure, he'd be willing to continue to run the prison under that company name. 

In the end, however, county officials opted to award the contract to MTC.

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