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Reeves County

Private prison is up for sale

Reeves County is thinking of selling their detention center, News West 9 reports.

 

Reeves County announced at the end of May that they would be permanently shutting down two corrections units as a part of the the Reeves County Detention Center complex operated by private prison corporation GEO Group, following the loss of a contract with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The county was negotiating with the BOP to keep a third unit open for another year as they transfer prisoners to other facilities. The negotiations were unsuccessful for the county however, and now the third unit will be closed.

 

County officials are now looking at all available options for the facility, including selling it. The county has received two bids for the facility so far. One was under the estimated price of the facility, and commissioners stated the other was more of a lay away plan. Neither bid was accepted, and the county is now getting an appraisal of the facility before it opening it up to other bids.

 

Reeves County is in negotiations to keep a private prison open

Reeves County is negotiating with the Bureau of Prisons to how they can keep one unit of the Reeves County Detention Center open, reports CBS 7.

 Last week, Reeves County announced the closing of two units of the Reeves County Detention Center. The closures follow the loss of a contract the county had with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to detain prisoners. The contract instead went to the GEO Group's Big Spring unit.

 County officials, including the county judge, commissioners, attorneys, and even financial advisors, are working to keep the last remaining unit open. Commissioners voted on Monday to move forward with using the GEO Group to help the county negotiate a bridge contract with the BOP. This would allow the facility to remain open for one year as prisoners are transferred to other facilities.

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Two Reeves County Detention units to close down indefinitely

The Reeves County Detention is closing two of its units indefinitely, reports CBS 7.

 County Judge W.J. Bang stated in a release that Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the detention center will be closed after July 31. They will close following the loss of a contract with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The contract, which was for 3,600 prisoners, was instead awarded to the GEO Group at their Big Spring units.

 There is a possibility that Unit 3 of the detention center could remain open for another year, as the county and BOP negotiate a bridge contract that would allow time for relocating prisoners.

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"A Death in Texas": More excellent coverage of immigrant detention complex from Tom Barry

Tom Barry continues his excellent coverage of the growing system of private prisons detaining immigrants for ICE, the U.S. Marshals, and the federal prison system in a new article in the Boston Review ("A Death in Texas: Profits, Poverty, and Immigration Converge," November/December 2009) online this week. 

Barry, whose excellent blogging over at the Border Lines Blog, has covered the growing immigrant detention industrial complex in the context of the mess that is the Reeves County Detention Center out in Pecos.  In this new article, Barry takes a comprehensive look at the policies and poverty that have driven poor rural Texas towns into the prison industry, and what some of the disasterous results have been.  Here's a brief sample:

Debbie Thomas, curator of the West of the Pecos Museum (commonly known as the cowboy museum), sighs when asked about the town’s only steady business over the past two decades. “Well, we don’t want to be known as a prison town, but it’s better than being a ghost town,” she says. Pecos was once a busy crossroads and hub of industry. Today, the downtown is dead.  In 1985 Reeves County became the first of a few dozen Texas counties to get into the speculative prison business, when Judge Jimmy Galindo (no relation to Jesus Manuel Galindo) persuaded the County Commissioners Court to take a bold step for Pecos’s economic future. At the time, Judge Galindo and other county leaders argued that Pecos could cash in on the surge in incarceration rates that accompanied the war on drugs. Years later, for the prison’s two expansions, the county and the private operators would rely on the federal government to send them immigrant inmates.

25 GEO Prisoners Indicted for December Riot

The title says it all.  From the KWES ("25 Inmates Indicted in Connection to RCDC’s First Riot"),

The U.S. District Court in Pecos has released documents showing 25 inmates at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC) were indicted for their part in the first riot at the prison.

The federal grand jury documents show those inmates conspired to cause the riot that broke out December 12th at RCDC buildings one and two.

Those inmates set fire to several buildings and held two workers there against their will for hours.

At the time, inmates said they were rioting because they wanted better healthcare and asked to speak with the Mexican consulate.

A second riot broke out about a month later on January 31st and lasted several days.

Both uprisings did millions of dollars in damage to the private prison near Pecos.

Of course, this story raise the real question - who at the GEO Group or Reeves County will be held accountable for creating the conditions that led this riot?  Prison riots don't just happen; they are a response to poor conditions and poor security, two things that seem to be increasingly endemic to the GEO Group's Texas operations. 

See our previous coverage of the Reeves County Detention Center: 

Another Death at GEO's RCDC,  March 27, 2009

GEO Riots Could Cost Reeves County More than $1 Million, February 27, 2009

Family Members Protest GEO Group in Reeves County, February 14, 2009

Another Death at GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center

The GEO Group's Reeves County Detention Center was home to another prisoner death.  According to a story on KRGV ("Valley family speaks out about relative's death in Pecos prison," March 20), Jose Manuel Falcon died while in custody at Reeves earlier this month.

A Rio Grande Valley family continues to search for justice after their nephew died while serving time in a private West Texas prison.

Jose Manuel Falcon was two months shy of his release from the Pecos prison when he died. The 32-year-old died Thursday, March 12, at the Reeve County Detention Center.

Falcon spent five years there. Family members called it a harsh sentence for being caught illegally in the U.S. without papers.

A GEO Group statement has confirmed Falcon's death, and claimed that he died of suicide, though the Texas Rangers have not reached a conclusion, according to KRGV ("Pecos Prison Death," March 20),

A spokesman for the GEO Group, a private prison company that runs the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos released a statement to NEWSCHANNEL 5.

The statement reads: On March 5, 2009, at approximately 6:40PM, inmate Jose Manuel Falcon took his life by self inflicting numerous lacerations with a disposable razor blade. At the time of the incident the inmate was in a single cell and there is no evidence of foul play. In accordance with state law, the custodial death of inmate falcon was investigated by the Texas Rangers and it has been determined through the investigation that the death was suicide.

A Texas Rangers spokesperson tells NEWSCHANNEL 5 they still consider Falcon's death an open case.

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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),

Sunset Recommendations for TCJS

As the 81st Regular Session swings into gear, legislators will consider statutory changes to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) recommended by the Texas Sunset Advisory Committee. Bob submitted Grassroots Leadership's recommendations to Sunset last August, and the Commission adopted the recommendation that TCJS should receive better funding and more staff. Recommendations for TCJS, revealed in the Sunset Commission's January report, seek to improve operations at TCJS and make the agency run more effectively.

These are most of the Sunset Commission's recommendations for TCJS:

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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