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GEO Group Brings In Execs, Buses For Laredo Meetings

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As Nicole reported several weeks ago, the debate over the GEO Group Laredo "superjail" continues. I was among several people to testify at both the December 10th Webb County Commission meeting and again at a December 17th Laredo City Council meeting as an invited member of a Laredo citizen's group opposed to the U.S. Marshals-contracted lock-up.

Other members of the citizens group on the 10th included civil rights attorneys, TAMIU professors, journalists, a resident of the colonias located near the prison site, and a family member of Gregario de la Rosa, the young man who was killed in a Wackenhut/GEO Group prison four days before his release. A similar, albeit smaller group, testified on the 17th.

Opposition testimony centered on arguments that the city and county should not have to provide city special use permits and county water hook-ups to a private detention facility - especially one operated by a company with a track record like GEO. Other arguments included quality-of-life concerns and arguments that the prison would not have a positive economic impact.

The GEO Group countered at the December 10th County Commission meeting by flying in CEO George Zoley and CFO Wayne Calbrese who testified in along with GEO attorney Carlos Zaffirini (husband to state Senator Judith Zaffirini), in favor of the facility. The three, flanked by a small army of lawyers from around the state, argued that GEO was a good corporate citizen and threatened legal action if the county and city backed out of utility and zoning permits.

At the December 17th meeting, GEO also bussed in about 50 construction workers from the facility billed as Laredoans in support of the facility (although it was later reported that most were not from Laredo).

More recent web coverage of Laredo superjail story:

We'll keep you updated on developments from Laredo...

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