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Private prison's scheme to license baby jails fails in Texas

Karnes County Civil Detention Center
A proposal written by a private prison company to license baby jails as child care facilities has failed, according to a press release from Grassroots Leadership.

The proposal was written to bypass a ruling by an Austin-area judge in a lawsuit filed by immigrant families saying Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) could not license the family detention centers as child care facilities. If the bills to license had passed, they would have resulted in the prolonged detention of families at two family detention centers in Texas —  the South Texas Residential Center and the Karnes County Residential Center. These facilities are operated by two private prison companies, CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America) and the GEO Group respectively.

Dilley family detention camp

The passage of this law would have been a boon to private prison companies, as evident by these companies paying lobbyists $480,000 to advocate for their interests to the Texas legislature.

Representative John Raney, a Republican who authored the House version of the bill, even admitted that the legislation came directly from a GEO lobbyist.

"I've known the lady who's their lobbyist for a long time ...That's where the legislation came from," said state Rep. John Raney, a Republican from the rural town of Bryan. "We don't make things up. People bring things to us and ask us to help."

In a legislative session where racism and bigotry won most of the time, having this bill die was a welcome, positive result.

2009 Year in Review - Top Private Prison Stories, #5 The 81st Legislative Session ends without increased oversight

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons. 

We would like to thank the loyal and casual readers who gather their information from our website. We have great plans for 2010, including a new interactive Texas map that has information on each private prison facility and we are looking into the plausibility of branching out in to video podcasting. We would like to wish all our readers a happy new year in 2010, and good fortune in the days to come.

-- Judy, Bob, Nick, Nicole, and Andrew

#5 - The 81st Legislative Session ends without increased oversight of private lock-ups

Despite several bills filed that would have provided some much-needed oversight to the private jail and detention systems in Texas, the 81st legislative session ended without much in the way of increased accountability of the private prison industry.  We chronicled the role that private prison lobbyists most likely played in killing a number of these bills.  Here's the run-down.  

HB 1714: This bill filed by Rep. Harold Dutton would have prohibited counties from contracting with private prisons.  The bill did not get a hearing this session and died in committee.  

HB 3903: Filed by Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr, the bill subjected private jails to the same open records laws as public facilities, mandated public hearings before privatization of county jails, and made it illegal for a public servant such as a Sheriffs to be paid by a private prison corporations in addition to their regular salaries.  The bill was voted out of the County Affairs committee only to be killed on the House floor by Rep. Tracy King, whose district includes several private jails and detention centers, Rep. Jim McReynods, chair of the House Corrections Committee, and Rep. Jerry Madden former chair of the House corrections committee.

SB 1680: This bill filed by Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa would have required voters to approve bonds used in the financing of constructed correctional facilities.  This bill did not receive a hearing and died in committee.

SB 1690:  Also filed by Sen. Hinojosa, this bill which died in committee as well. The bill would have exteneded oversight to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to monitor county jails that only house federal prisoners, a reversal of 2003's HB 3517, a bill that stripped the Commission from such authority.

We'll be back with Top Private Prison Story #4 soon.

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