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Leonard Residents Defeat Proposed "Faith-based" Private Prison!!!

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Good news from Leonard, Texas! Residents have successfully stopped a proposed "faith-based" private prison from being built in the small Fannin County community. While the rehabilitative motives of Corrections Concepts Inc, the private prison corporation, may have been be noble enough, the fact that this prison was a speculative lock-up (the company was actively searching for prisoners from different agencies to fill it) means that it would have contributed to the problem of too many prison beds in Texas. Texas needs fewer prisons not more.

According to a source in Leonard, over 250 people packed the city council meeting on January 29th to ask CCI's lawyer questions about the prison. Then, the city council voted 5-0 to not enter into an aggreement with CCI, the faith-based private prison company. According to the source, the room exploded in applause for the decision. Read some of our previous coverage of Leonard and CCI:

The organizing effort in Leonard, combined with the recently defeated private detention center in Caldwell County, should show others that fighting private prisons in Texas can be successful. Congratulations to all involved in this effort!


In September, my mother (former mayor of Leonard) called and asked me to research CCI (and its founder, ex-felon Bill Robinson), a company that was proposing to build a 500-bed prison inside the city limits. She only knew about it from reading the posted agenda for the next council meeting, something that I think no one else in town ever does. A moderately diligent Internet search turned up all sorts of information, most notably that CCI had been turned down by a half-dozen other Texas cities, and that Mr. Robinson, like "Professor" Harold Hill in "The Music Man," had rolled into Leonard, looking for another mark. Over the intervening months, she managed to get the townsfolk fired up, organizing petition drives, haranguing the other citizens to attend council meetings, and contacting officials in towns and cities that had turned CCI down (some of which he had claimed to have actually entered into agreements with; con artist's first rule - don't tell lies that can be checked with a simple phone call). Speaking at the local Baptist church in December, Robinson referred to my mother as "Satan's handmaiden." She appeared at the next council meeting wearing a red dress and homemade devil horns. Despite all of this, it seemed, as recently as the council meeting on the 29th, that the town's elected officials were by-god going to ignore the public outcry (and threats of a recall election) and push the prison down Leonard's throat. In fact, when they retired into a closed executive session, it was expected by everyone in attendance that they would emerge with a signed management agreement, as indicated by the posted agenda. The unanimous decision not to do so was a huge surprise to everyone in the council chamber, not least John J. Sheedy, the Dallas attorney supposedly "representing" Leonard's interests, but who was, in fact, Robinson's point man. Regardless, I'm sure Texas hasn't heard the last of Bill Robinson; these "mission-from-god" types are hard to keep down. Thanks for your coverage of this and other Texas prison issues.