UPDATE, July 28, 11:50am: the facility was sold apparently for $6 million to an unknown, online bidder. More info as we get it.
A troubled former West Texas private prison, the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, will be auctioned off tomorrow at 11am CDT. The prison facility, which cost the city of Littlefield $11 million in bonds to build, was highlighted last month in an NPR expose about the problems with speculative private prison building.
We will be live-tweeting the auction. Follow @Grassroots_News for updates.
According to Williams & Williams Auction, hosting the auction both at the physical location in Littlefield and online, the minumum bid on the facility will be $5 million or only $13,055 per prison bed. Of course, one has to wonder if its worth the hefty price tag. As we've covered over at the Texas Prison Bid'ness blog:
"Littlefield has been paying back loans it floated to build the prison facility before its closure in 2008. That year, the state of Idaho pulled its prisoners from the facility, then operated by GEO Group, after the suicide of Randall McCullough, who, according to news reports, had spent more than a year in solitary confinement. GEO was later hit with a massive lawsuit over in the McCullough case.
Since the facility's closure, Littlefield has had its bond ratings dropped and turned to two different private prison companies in an effort to fill the prison beds. One has to wonder why, given this history, a different owner would be more successful in turning this "turn-key detention center" into a financial success."
Furthermore, documents we've recently received from the Idaho Department of Corrections show that the facility, then operated by GEO Group and housing Idaho prisoners, was chronically understaffed, making us wonder how a new vendor will make a difference.
For more information on Bill Clayton see:
- Texas Prison Bid'ness: Bill Clayton Detention Center
- John Burnet, "Private Prison Promises Leave Texas Town in Trouble," NPR, March 28, 2011
- Patrick Michels, "Texas town pins hope on prison auction," Texas Independent, July 27, 2011