Aug 4, 2015

The Financial Collapse Of The Private Immigrant Detention Industry

Construction on private prison-operated facilities has grown nationwide, especially in Texas. At 39 percent, Texas has the highest concentration of privately run detention beds in the country, according to the immigrant advocacy group Grassroots Leadership.

The two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, operate 72 percent of the private immigrant detention industry. Both companies reported surging profits in their quarterly earnings. That’s in part because many contracts include occupancy requirements mandating that state or local governments must keep facilities anywhere between 80 and 100 percent full. On top of that, Congress has a so-called bed mandate, requiring that the Department of Homeland Security make available at least 34,000 beds every night for immigrant detention. That figure has been adjusted to around 31,000 for the 2015 fiscal year. [node:read-more:link]

Aug 2, 2015
Bloomberg Business

Border Jails Facing Bond Defaults as Immigration Boom Goes Bust

Today the 566-bed facility, called the La Salle County Regional Detention Facility, sits almost empty behind thick coils of razor ribbon in tiny Encinal, whose 579 residents barely outnumber prison beds. Another border detention center was destroyed in a riot by prisoners after cost-cutting efforts led to deplorable conditions. Another, on the banks of the Rio Grande River, is slated to close next month after too few inmates walked through the doors to keep up with big debt payments.

“The number of people detained and incarcerated for immigration matters hasn’t kept up with the pace of construction for these new beds,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy organization based in Austin, Texas, that opposes private prisons.

The drop-off follows an almost two-decade boom that saw the number of immigrant detainees mushroom, partly as a result of more people crossing into the U.S. and partly due to a get-tough attitude toward illegal border crossers. County jails grew overcrowded. [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame | Harris Co. sends 100 to privately-run jail

When we’re writing about prisoner transfer to privately operated facilities, we’re usually talking about state prisons.  However, Harris County, TX made headlines this week with Sheriff Ron Hickman’s decision to move prisoners out of the county jail to the Jefferson County jail, run by for-profit private prison company LaSalle Corrections.  Hickman cites overcrowding as rationale for outsourcing roughly 100 post-trial inmates from Houston to Beaumont.  
The maneuver may have gone unnoticed had it not been for the public critique of Houston-area state senator John Whitmire who also chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.  In his letter to the Sheriff, Senator Whitmire takes issue with the decision both on the grounds that there are empty beds in Harris County jail facilities, and that local stakeholders were not given an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.  Sound familiar?
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