Helping People Gain Power
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A for-profit transitional home in Dallas County has not paid the county for emergency medical help since last October, reports Fox 4 News.
The Avalon Dallas Transitional Home, which houses individuals recently released from prison with no place to live, has made excessive 911 calls for medical aid. However, the for-profit company that operates the facility, CoreCivic (formerly called Corrections Corporation of America), has yet to pay Dallas County for the aid.
John Wiley Price, a commissioner in Dallas County, is angry that the private prison company has not paid its bills to county, despite getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state. Fox News 4 obtained documents showing that between October 2016 and July 2017, 243 emergency calls were made from the Avalon Dallas Transitional Home. Each time a Dallas County ambulance responded to one of these calls, it cost $450. The total cost of the calls in that period amount to $222,900. The county has yet to see a penny of that.
The GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the U.S., filed a lawsuit against Glenn Hegar, Comptroller of Public Accounts for the State of Texas, and Ken Paxton, the state Attorney General. The lawsuit was seeking a refund of sales tax on gas and electricity used in GEO's detention facilities. GEO Group said it was entitled to the sales tax exemption for residential use under a specific section of the State Tax Code.
Following an audit, the Comptroller found that GEO needed to pay additional sales and use tax for the period of May 1, 2001, to April 30, 2005, due to a disagreement on the GEO facilities being residential and therefore tax exempt. GEO paid the extra funds under protest. They then filed the suit against the Comptroller after he denied their request to refund the amounts paid. GEO sought $1,367,377.14 plus interest as their refund.
Harris County has brought all of its outsourced prisoners back to Harris County, reports Houston Public Media.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who was elected in January, brought prisoners back from private prisons to Harris County within three months of his election. Though private prisons are notorious for the mistreatment of their prisoners, Sheriff Gonzalez said he moved them back for budgetary reasons.
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s department, the department spent around $4.5 million sending prisoners to private prisons outside of Harris County. This fiscal year the county is expected to spend under $300,000.
When discussing the budget, Sheriff Gonzalez said, "I simply think we incarcerate way too many folks; and there is a cost associated with that. Whether it be the cost of daily housing or sometimes outsourcing inmates. So I think that we need to change those practices… And that’s why I’m a big advocate for reform, and really addressing our mass incarceration complex that we have in this country."
He also said that there were other benefits to bringing the prisoners back to Harris County. The facility can have more control over things such as medical records. It is also beneficial because loved ones can visit without having to travel to other cities or counties.
The El Paso County Judge said that ending the county's federal jail contract would be immoral, reports ABC 7 KVIA.
The county jail in El Paso has a contract with the federal government to detain undocumented immigrants. After meeting with Border Patrol, the Federal Public Defender's Office, and the Mexican Consulate, County Judge Veronica Escobar stated that ending the contract would be immoral. She said that if the county ended the contract, many of the undocumented immigrants would be forced to go to private prisons.
The federal government pays El Paso County $80 a day per inmate housed in their facility, though the actual cost is $89 a day per inmate. The difference amounts to about $5 million, which taxpayers are responsible for paying.
While it is true that private prisons are known for mistreatment of their prisoners, including sexual abuse by guards and deaths in their facilities, Escobar herself admitted that the county jail is "an aging facility and we're going to need to pour more maintenance in it." While it is an improvement over private prisons, it is still a cage.
It leaves us with the question: At what point is a cage morally acceptable?