Kerrville State Hospital

Victory - Private Prison Corporation Will Not Take Control of Texas State Hospital!

Normally, we dedicate Wednesday blog posts to the the Hump Day Hall of Shame –  highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

However, today we decided to celebrate some good news from deep in the heart of Texas.  After months of organizing by Grassroots Leadership and our allies across the state, state leaders have rejected private prison corporation GEO Group's bid to take over the Kerrville State Hospital!  According to the Kerrville Daily Times:

"The Kerrville State Hospital will remain under state management — at least for now. Texas state commissioner David Lakey rejected GEO Care’s proposal to privatize the state hospital.

The Daily Times received an internal email from acting superintendent Jay Norwood sent to employees today that confirmed Lakey rejected GEO Care's proposal, which was to privatize the Kerrville State Hospital." [node:read-more:link]

Privatizing Kerrville State Hospital is Unconscionable

Over the weekend the Houston Chronicle ran this editorial by Maria Ramos, a mental health expert and board member of the ACLU of Texas.  The first line reads, “There's a scandal waiting to happen if GEO Care gets its hands on another Texas mental health hospital,” and we agree.  GEO’s history in Texas of mismanaging prison and health care facilities has been well-documented.  Back in 2011 the San Antonio Current, a local weekly publication, ran an excellent piece on GEO’s expansion in Texas and featured “GEO Group Texas Death Watch,” a timeline of deaths in GEO-run facilities in Texas since 1999.

Over the weekend the Houston Chronicle ran this editorial by Maria Ramos, a mental health expert and board member of the ACLU of Texas.  The first line reads, “There's a scandal waiting to happen if GEO Care gets its hands on another Texas mental health hospital,” and we agree.  GEO’s history in Texas of mismanaging prison and health care facilities has been well-documented.  Back in 2011 the San Antonio Current, a local weekly publication, ran an excellent piece on GEO’s expansion in Texas and featured “GEO Group Texas Death Watch,” a timeline of deaths in GEO-run facilities in Texas since 1999.

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Who gains if GEO Care takes over Kerrville State Hospital?

You already know who doesn’t want Texas to contract with GEO Care, a division of private prison corporation GEO Group, to take over the Kerrville State Hospital.  With our partners and allies at other organizations, Grassroots Leadership sent a letter in opposition to privatization to Governor Rick Perry.  Community members from around the state have also signed on to our petition calling on the Governor to cancel the bidding process.   We have cited numerous potential problems if the Texas Department of State Health Services turns over control of the hospital to GEO Care.

Based on GEO’s history in Texas and beyond, we are concerned about what contracting with the for-profit prison company will mean for patient care at Kerrville State Hospital, for the safety of the employees that work there, and for the community of Kerrville that could see significant downsizing of jobs at the hospital. GEO has promised to cut operating costs there by 10%.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: GEO Group aims for take-over of Texas state hospital

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

In Texas, where both incarceration and immigrant detention rates soar, we’re accustomed to scrutinizing the state’s privatization efforts of these facilities.  However, there’s a new trend afoot in our state; privatizing state mental health facilities under the guise of cost savings to taxpayers, and Texas is turning over control of these facilities to companies that run for-profit prisons to provide care and safety to our state’s mentally ill population.

The state is currently considering a bid to privatize a state-run psychiatric facility by GEO Care, who promises to save the state millions of dollars a year.  

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