Friday, November 03, 2006

Did Omega forget about the Alpha?

County pays triple
State probes two firms championed by Shamsie; he says it's sour grapes; county engineer says he could've done job
By Jaime Powell Caller-TimesJune 19, 2005


From an engineer's perspective, Nueces County's $58 million road rehabilitation project is a simple job. Yet, the county is paying three times the customary rate for engineering and inspection services, according to engineers in government and private practice.
Instead of assigning the county's staff engineer to handle the project, Nueces County Judge Terry Shamsie negotiated $7.6 million for engineering with Omega Contracting Inc. and $7.95 million for inspection with DOS Logistics, as the county revamps 280 miles of mostly flat, straight, narrow, non-shouldered rural roadway.
The engineering and inspection fees amount to 34 percent of the $47 million construction portion of the project. Engineering professionals say those fees normally would be in the 10 percent range - or less for a job such as this one because it is not an engineering challenge.
Shamsie was able to negotiate contract proposals with the two out-of-town firms, and then submit the proposals to the Commissioners Court for approval, rather than submit the contracts to competitive bidding, because they are contracts for professional services. Local governments can select a professional services contractor to their liking after receiving statements of qualifications from those interested in the job.
Shamsie says County Engineer Glenn Sullivan was too busy to take on the project - an assertion Sullivan denies.
Shamsie also said the two companies are worth what they're being paid. He says he expected the project to be costly because he wanted it completed quickly. He did not want it to drag on for years, he said, as have some of the state and municipal road projects under way in this area. He successfully sought to fund the project with certificates of obligation, a way to bypass voter approval, which he said would have taken valuable time.
"That's a negotiated contract," Shamsie said. "They (Omega and DOS Logistics) wanted a lot more than that. Everybody thinks it's a 'gimme.' Are they paid well? Yes. Are they going to do the job? Yeah. Are a lot of other people jealous? Yeah."
The Texas Board of Professional Engineers is now investigating whether either of the firms was licensed to provide engineering services when they signed their contracts, Texas Board of Professional Engineers spokesman Paul Cook said.
The county's request for qualifications for the engineering portion of the project states that Nueces County was seeking an engineering firm, registered to practice in the State of Texas, with experience in roadway rehabilitation, bridge design and large-scale road and bridge projects.
For the inspection portion of the project, the request for qualifications solicited inspection for capital construction projects and other special services such as presentations to the Commissioners Court on progress.
Fees viewed as high
The engineering and inspection fees aren't the only ones in the contracts that have been described by engineers in government and private practice as exorbitant. A review of proposed rate schedules from six other companies that sought the contract shows that the winners are receiving significant markups for the following:
-- DOS Logistics' $95-an-hour fee for senior inspectors. The local average is $70 an hour, according to the local companies' rate schedules.
-- Omega's $161-an-hour fee for a program manager, totaling $593,889 during the 18-month contract period. The local average is $110 an hour, according to the rate schedules and interviews with officials from some local companies. Kurt Diedrich, Omega's program manager, is not a state-licensed engineer, according to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers - unusual, engineers say, for a firm offering engineering services. Attempts to reach Diedrich were unsuccessful.
-- Omega's $82 an hour for each of two administrative assistants, or $494,582. The local average is $50 an hour, according to the rate schedules.
-- DOS Logistics' $120 an hour or $374,400 for public relations coordinator Celina Garza. The six other companies' rate schedules do not include public relations as a service, but typically they would charge three times the labor cost for a contract employee to account for overhead, profit and office expenses - meaning private industry would bill $45 to $96 an hour for a spokesperson.
The Texas Department of Transportation pays its beginning public information officers $14.95 an hour. The agency's top spokespeople make $31.83 an hour and handle sensitive and complex issues, serving as a liaison to the print and broadcast media, the agency's public information office in Austin and the public, said Texas Department of Transportation planning and development director Paula Sales Evans.
Handling inquiries
Garza's job is to handle inquiries from the public and the media. Garza did not return phone calls or e-mails, and declined to answer questions when contacted in person by a Caller-Times reporter.
Garza's experience and qualifications were unavailable. On a previous occasion before declining to answer questions for this article, she disclosed that her most recent previous employment was as a secretary to Hidalgo County Commissioner Sylvia Handy.
Shamsie said DOS Logistics and Omega Contracting are qualified and complaints are coming from local companies that submitted their qualifications and wanted the job.
Critics of the contracts include engineering professionals who would not have been in a position to bid on the job. Among those saying the county is overpaying are Steve Stagner, the Austin-based president of the Texas Council of Engineering Companies, and engineering professionals in government jobs with the City of Corpus Christi, the Port of Corpus Christi and the Texas Department of Transportation.
"It's a considerably higher percentage of fees than you would expect to see for those services as a part of the overall project," Stagner said.
By comparison, engineering and inspection for 10 miles of high-traffic city streets included in the City of Corpus Christi's 2004 bond project is averaging 8.3 percent for engineering/design and 3.5 percent for inspection. And the project is much more challenging, said City Engineer Angel Escobar.
"We have waterline work, waste-line work, drainage, road construction, curb and gutter, sidewalks and traffic signals to deal with. And it's in built-up areas, not in the middle of nowhere," he said. "It's quite a difference, isn't it? The other big difference is we are dealing with a complex system in the city, versus caliche and asphalt."
Qualifications issue
And then there is the question of qualifications.
County Attorney Laura Garza Jimenez has appealed a Caller-Times public information request for documents including the qualifications submitted by the two companies. Jimenez's appeal to Attorney General Greg Abbott, which is pending, claims the documents including the two companies' qualifications contain confidential information, some of which is proprietary.
Shamsie said he could not recall projects either company had worked on, and he could not cite either company's qualifications. DOS Logistics and Omega Contracting officials did not respond to phone or email inquiries.
Once the contracts were awarded, Stagner filed a complaint alleging that Omega Contracting violated state law by not having an engineer on staff when the contract was awarded.
The complaint alleges that when Omega responded to Nueces County's June 2004 request for qualifications, and when the county awarded the contract in October 2004, Omega was not registered as an engineering firm in Texas. The complaint also alleges the company did not have a licensed engineer on staff.
According to Texas Board of Professional Engineers licensing records, Omega was licensed as an engineering firm 21 days after Nueces County awarded the company the engineering contract on Oct. 25.
Omega declined to comment, referring questions to Garza of DOS Logistics, who also would not answer questions.
In DOS Logistics' contract there also is nearly $1 million in charges to the county for a resident engineer and an assistant resident engineer. The company is not licensed to offer those services, according to records from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.
Looking into project
"We are going to look into everything and anything that has anything to do with engineering on this project," said Cook, the board's spokesman.
Garza, the spokeswoman for DOS Logistics, declined to answer whether the company employs an engineer and said written questions from the Caller-Times about the project had been turned over to an attorney. She declined to identify the attorney and the Caller-Times has not received a written response to the questions.
In October, Omega hired Dallas-based Parsons Brinckerhoff Construction Services to do the actual engineering on the project after the Nueces County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to act on Shamsie's recommendation that the contracts be awarded to the two companies.
Gary Hodges, an engineer with Parsons Brinckerhoff, said the company has supplied a registered engineer to the project and that the company, which has an international reputation, will make between $1.5 million and $2 million for engineering on the project.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is not supplying an engineer to DOS Logistics, Hodges said.
That leaves Omega to do oversight on the project and DOS Logistics to conduct the inspections.
County Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria said Shamsie was "the driving force" behind the two contracts. Shamsie recommended the two firms to the commissioners, she said.
She said she was anxious to get the project moving because a majority of the roads in need of work are in her precinct and at the time she did not notice that she was never shown any qualifications for either firm, she said.
Complaints voiced
Once the contracts were awarded, she immediately started hearing complaints from local engineers who told her that Omega was not an engineering company, and questions about the ownership of DOS Logistics.
"I didn't know they didn't have an engineer. I heard all of that after the fact," Longoria said.
Carl Crull, president of the local Council of Engineering Companies and an engineer at HDR Engineering, one of the firms originally vying for the job said, "We were disappointed that more of the work was not being done by local firms."
Maverick Engineering, Naismith Engineering, RVE Engineering, Goldston Engineering, HDR Engineering and the Anderson Group are the local companies that submitted qualifications for the engineering and inspection work.
Texas Secretary of State records indicate that Omega Contracting is based in Dallas and belongs to Luis Spinola. Spinola also owns Azteca Enterprises. Both firms are described on their Web site as contractors that seek government contracts set aside for minorities. Spinola did not return phone calls. His secretary referred inquiries to Garza, the Dos Logistics public relations specialist, who has refused comment.
DOS Logistics' registered agent is Eric Chin and the company is based in Weslaco, according to records from the Texas Secretary of State. Corpus Christi businessman George Finley said he started the company in 1999 to pursue minority contracts and that he no longer owns it.
DeLay did legal work
Randy DeLay, a Houston lawyer and lobbyist, whose brother is U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, was the company's registered agent when it was incorporated in 1999. Finley said Randy DeLay's only role with DOS Logistics was handling the legal work of incorporating the company for Finley.
Last year, Shamsie and County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz unsuccessfully sought to award DeLay a $1.2 million contract to lobby on behalf of local military installations.
Chin, the stepson of Gumecindo "Gume" Ybarraa business associate of Finley's, has since taken over operations, Finley said.
"I have known Gume for 10 or 15 years," he said. "I have businesses in the Valley."
There also are questions about why County Engineer Glenn Sullivan didn't handle the project. Normally Sullivan would have been responsible for a project such as this, Shamsie, Longoria, Ortiz and Commissioner Chuck Cazalas said.
Sullivan said he had nothing to do with hiring the two companies, which would normally have been a part of his duties, he said.
Shamsie and Ortizsaid Sullivan was stretched too thin, taking care of his regular duties and did not have time to oversee the rehabilitation project.
Unsure of reason
Sullivan denied that assertion, saying he is qualified for such a project and that he was not too busy.
Typically he and Cora Goding, the county purchasing agent, would have played a key role. This time they didn't. He said he does not know why.
Cazalas and Longoria said they do not know why Sullivan was bypassed and agreed that he should have played a big part in the project.
Shamsie and Ortiz said it's a big, aggressive project being turned around quickly - 18 months - and that they both wanted professionals doing the job.
"People pay taxes, and they want the job done," Shamsie said.
Sullivan joined the county five years ago after a 27-year career with the Texas Department of Transportation, part of which was spent as Assistant District Engineer, the No. 2 man, over a 10-county area that includes Nueces County. Evans, the TxDOT planning and development director, describes Sullivan as a highly qualified professional with the experience and skills to have handled the project.
Ortiz said the county's roads have been in disrepair for a long time and they needed to be rehabilitated quickly.
Asked about the price tag for the services Omega Contracting and DOS Logistics are providing and the staffing costs associated with those contracts, Ortiz answered: "I really don't know what to say about it."
Contact Jaime Powell at 996-3716 or powellj@caller.com

13 comments:

dannoynted1 said...

PRINT THIS STORY | E-MAIL THIS STORY

Political Pulse: 01.30.05
January 30, 2005


Tax write-offs just a part




of lobbyists' normal job

John Bell, the attorney for the Regional Transportation Authority, leaned back in his chair and raised his eyebrows when RTA commissioner John Buckley said he wanted receipts for all of lobbyist Randy DeLay's expenditures.

"Be careful what you wish for," Bell said. "Do you really want copies of all that? It's a public record for all to see."

A short time later when Buckley questioned whether lobbyists for the RTA should be able to charge write-offs, RTA chairman Mike Rendon opined, "Lobbyists take people to the best restaurants. Everybody drinks. That's just the way business is done. If you want something done, that's what it takes."

Capelo named on list of up-and-coming lobbyists

Former state Rep. Jaime Capelo is listed as one of the top five "rising star" lobbyists to watch this legislative session by the online Austin watchdog Capitol Inside. Also listed on the Web site as one of the Top 10 law firm lobby practices is Bracewell Patterson, which has a local office.

Plastic-only celebration planned for Packery

Mark Scott, a longtime proponent and leader in the dredging of Packery Channel, is prepared to celebrate the project's anticipated completion in May.

"I'll be the guy weeping in the breakwater with a plastic container of champagne," said the District 4 councilman. "Of course I say plastic because glass isn't allowed on our beaches."

Lago invites Fort Wayne to vie for 'stupidest' title

After Corpus Christi was named second-dumbest city in the nation behind Fort Wayne, Ind., local morning radio talk show host Jim Lago got on the radio and said Corpus Christi does not like coming in second.

He wants to challenge Fort Wayne radio listeners to a trivia contest versus Corpus Christi listeners. He told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, which picked up his show, that the cities are comparable because they have both struggled to keep manufacturing afloat, schools in both cities are facing budget crunches and the populations are comparable.

Lago told the Journal Gazette that win or lose, "For the first time in my life, I felt like we should have a sister city. It would be like royalty. The inbreds."

Councilmen respond to Men's Health article

At Mo Morehead & Fred Dotts' Friday afternoon weekly see-and-be-seen, John Longoria and City Councilman Rex Kinnison bandied about a response for the editors of Men's Health Magazine, which named Corpus Christi the second stupidest city in the nation.

"I think we should challenge the editor of that magazine to come down and face our 14-year-old spelling bee champ," Longoria said. "He won't have a spell check to help him this time."

One BRAC nominee has ties to Corpus Christi

With four area military installations on the line, Wednesday's announcement of two nominees to the Base Realignment and Closure Committee perked up ears locally and in Washington. One of the nominees, Ret. Army Gen. John G. Coburn, has ties to Corpus Christi that go way back. Coburn is the former head of Army Materiel Command, which controls Army depots nationwide including the Corpus Christi installation.

Parma: Consider source on stupidest city article

Former Corpus Christi lawyer Nicolas Parma added his two cents about the Men's Health Magazine story from his new office in Houston, "Mens Health? Ever looked at that magazine? Muscle heads and macho bull&%$#. They should determine dumbest city by per capita subscriptions to their creepy publication. As for USA Today (which followed the story) it might be animal cruelty to line a bird cage with that rag, thus exposing helpless animals to the stuff they generate."

RTA board members

note Longoria's absence

Abel Alonzo, who openly feuds with RTA board member and former Corpus Christi City Councilman John Longoria at most RTA meetings, took a shot at Longoria, who was absent from Wednesday's meeting.

Longoria has criticized the RTA's hiring of lobbyist Randy DeLay, which is a move Alonzo supports.

"My good friend John Longoria said we need to be responsible to the taxpayers and he's not even here," he told the board of directors, who stalled DeLay's contract for the second time in a month. "You need to stop bending over backward for John Longoria because he's just playing politics."

Jumping on the Longoria-bashing bandwagon, RTA board member Roland Barrera added, "If we would have wanted John to come we should have had the meeting on the radio."

Longoria: City, county officials really get along

Nueces County Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria hugged Corpus Christi City Councilman Bill Kelly, who showed up for the commissioner's court meeting Wednesday. As she hugged him she said, "Where's a reporter when you need one? See! The city and the county do get along."

Abel Herrero staffer admits she's all talk

After her boss Elias Vasquez announced that Zulema Zapata from the Nueces County grants administration office was resigning to take a job in Rep. Abel Herrero's office, she said, "I want to thank Elias for hiring me in 1996. I learned a lot I didn't know. I didn't know anything and I mean anything. I kind of lied on the interview. He asked me, 'Can you do this? Or that? And I said, 'Oh yeah, sure.' "

Getting in on the act, County Judge Terry Shamsie burst out laughing, saying "And you told Abel the same thing, noooooo problem."

Political Pulse is compiled by staff writer Jaime Powell. _Contributors this week include Powell, Neal Falgoust, Nancy Martinez and Mike Baird. _Got a tip? Call 886-3716 _or email powellj@caller.com

dannoynted1 said...

Political Pulse: 02.06.05
February 6, 2005


Speculation mounts about Ortiz-Luna race




Nueces County Democratic Party chairman Solomon Ortiz Jr. reportedly went around Austin this week saying he plans to run for state Rep. Vilma Luna's office next go-round.

Ortiz denied it Friday, saying it was just rumors run amok.

"All I am going to say is I am very happy as party chair," he said. "I have not told anybody I am going to run against Vilma. Absolutely not, I am not running for anything. If anything I am running away."

But Austin political consultant Dya Campos was sitting at a table with a group of people along with Ortiz Monday night when he began listing reasons he would run against Luna.

"One of those reasons he listed that I found to be ironic was that she had risen to be vice chair of appropriations," Campos said. "One of the reasons he thought she needed to go was because she is part of the leadership."

The rumors irk Luna.

She said several people have told her Ortiz has said he will run.

"I've been told for months," Luna said. "There are some lobbyists, and he has talked to Mike Lavigne at the Texas Democratic Party. A lot of the people who have heard it won't go on the record but it's something he has been talking about for months."

Mayoral hopeful Garrett a veteran of campaigning

At a Henry Garrett-for-Mayor fund-raiser at the Art Center Tuesday night, Garrett discussed with City Councilwoman Melody Cooper the rigors of campaigning.

"You've got to keep your eyes open or you'll get beaten," Garrett said, reminiscing about his last run for the mayor's office in 1997. "It was 554 votes. But who's counting? I go to bed at night and before I go to sleep, it's 'Amen and 554 votes.' "

Cooper patted Garrett on the back and reassured him, "The margin will be greater than that but in your favor this time."

Luna jumps up a notch on list of top legislators

After Speaker of the House Tom Craddick made committee appointments last week, Rep. Vilma Luna's political stock jumped another notch, according to Capitol Inside, an online service that bills itself as a guide to Texas politics.

Originally Luna was in a tie with Phil King, R-Weatherford, as the fourth most powerful state representative this session. Now she is No. 3, among a Top 10 list that includes nine Republican powerhouses.

Luna hopped a notch, with key assignments such as Appropriations vice-chair; a spot on the Legislative Budget Board, Select Public School Finance vice-chair, Joint Select Public School Finance member and because she has major multiple committee assignments (appropriations, calendars, ways and means), leaving King one rung down.

Rep. Gene Seaman, R-Corpus Christi, is on the same list in a four-way tie for spot No. 22 out of 50 top lawmakers. He secured his spot on the power rankings with key assignments including not one, but two vice chairmanships on calendars and insurance.

Hospital board member loses debate with judge

At the Nueces County Commissioners workshop Tuesday, George Finley, who is appointed to the Christus Spohn Hospital Board, tried his hand at proving the economic values of the health system's renaissance project and talked about the possibility of selling the hospital.

County Judge Terry Shamsie went toe to toe with him on every statement he made and in the end, Finley regretted showing up at all, after other Spohn officials chose not to attend.

"I'm not going to argue with the judge - I'll lose," Finley said above a chuckling commissioners court and taking his seat. "I definitely shouldn't have come here today. I just got fired."

RTA chairman: You get what you pay for in DeLay

Regional Transportation Authority commissioner John Longoria said when he questioned why the RTA would pay $120,000 to lobbyist Randy DeLay, when an equally good lobbyist Chuck Graves is making $60,000, RTA chairman Mike Rendon compared it to buying steaks.

"He said, if you pay 50 bucks you get a good steak, if you pay 10 bucks you get a 10-buck steak."

Longoria opined later that at least when you pay for a steak, you get a steak.

"There is zero guarantee," he said, "that we are going to get anything out of a $120,000 lobbyist."

Those who have power have power lunches

Seen at Vietnam Restaurant Thursday:

The day after the Regional Transportation Authority board passed a $120,000 lobbying contract for Randy DeLay, RTA chair Mike Rendon lunched with board member Anna Flores, County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz and Port Commissioner Yolanda Olivarez. At another table, City Councilman and accountant Rex Kinnison who is enmeshed in tax season and a re-election campaign, lunched with wife Kendra.

Political Pulse editor is Jaime Powell, who can be reached at 886-3716 or powellj@caller.com. Staff writer Nancy Martinez contributed this week.

dannoynted1 said...

Politics, trolley stances linked
Councilmen deny sentiments about DeLay are factor

By Matthew Sturdevant Caller-Times
February 19, 2005

Regional Transportation Authority Board Chairman Miguel Rendon said politics may be the undercurrent motivating two city councilmen who were critical this week of plans to put a rail trolley in downtown Corpus Christi.

Rendon said he suspects City Councilmen Rex Kinnison and Brent Chesney voiced opposition to the trolley because the City Council secretly did not want the RTA to renew a $120,000 contract in January with lobbyist Randy DeLay's company, Private Public Strategy Consulting. DeLay is the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land.





"I cannot say that that is what they're doing, but I understand the politics," Rendon said.

DeLay's company is paid to conduct federal lobbying, but he is not the lobbyist working for the RTA on the trolley project, Rendon said. Alan Wulkan is the RTA consultant working on the trolley project, Rendon said.

Kinnison and Chesney said the accusation is not based in fact. Minutes from City Council meetings, newspaper articles and television interviews indicate that Chesney had been critical of the project for months before the DeLay contract. The same sources show that Kinnison has been asking for months how the trolley will be funded, and why it should be more of a priority than street improvements and other infrastructure needs.

"If Mike Rendon and his constituency can't control you then they don't like you, and I am not going to be controlled," Chesney said. "This trolley is the biggest boondoggle this city has had to deal with."

Rendon said Chesney isn't keeping an open mind about the trolley.

"I've been in Corpus Christi for 22 years, and downtown businesses can't stay.

"They open up and a few years later, they're gone," Rendon said. "When you put something permanent, things grow around it. I've seen it in Tampa. I've seen it in Memphis. I've seen it in New Orleans. The tourists will ride the streetcar."

Mayor Loyd Neal, at the request of Kinnison and Chesney, asked the RTA to give a presentation on the trolley during the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Chesney and Kinnison had urged the council to take a vote on whether the city should continue to support the trolley idea at this time. Neal told RTA employees and board members at Tuesday's meeting that the council would vote sometime before April 1. The City Council election is April 2.

"I was trying to find a way not to force a vote on this next week," Neal said. "I've been a supporter of the trolley all along I was trying to give a reasonable amount of time before the election for them to present a financial plan and if you go back and look at the transcript he, (RTA general manager Ricardo Sanchez), said he felt like they could get a financial plan ready by then."

But Rendon said the RTA won't have enough time to lobby the federal government for funds, and a rough financial plan won't be ready until May or June.

Kinnison said he doesn't see how the RTA can come up with a funding plan for a $32.4 million project when the council has said unequivocally that it will not fund the trolley beyond an initial payment for the feasibility study.

So, if the federal government will only pay for one-third or two-thirds of the cost of building a rail system, where will the other money come from, Kinnison has asked.

"In all honesty and fairness, there is no funding source," Kinnison said.

Rendon said he is not asking the city to give money to the project. Allowing the RTA to have a right-of-way to lay rail tracks could be considered a matching fund for grants and would allow the RTA to secure state and federal money.

However, the source of that state or federal money isn't clear yet and won't be until later this year. But the RTA won't be able to outline the funding sources before the council's deadline of April 1.

"It's politics," Rendon said. "They want to say, 'We did it. We stopped the trolley. The RTA is crazy.'"

Contact Matthew Sturdevant at sturdevantm@caller.com, or 886-3778.

dannoynted1 said...

Randy DeLay's contract with RTA due scrutiny
Willingness of RTA board majority to extend the arrangement for the Washington lobbyist raises some questions that need answers

February 8, 2005

For a fellow who conducts his business out of the glare of publicity, Randy DeLay has a way of popping up in headlines - and generating controversies - in these parts.

Last May, DeLay, the lobbyist (and brother of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay), came into the spotlight when Nueces County Judge Terry Shamsie tried (but failed) to convince his colleagues on the Commissioners Court support retaining his lobbying services.




The idea, as Shamsie and his backers explained it, was to help area interests and agencies defend the Coastal Bend's military installations in the upcoming round of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Later, in January, Caller-Times reporter Brad Olson wrote that Randy DeLay, through his Washington connections, would have pressed for the appointment of a BRAC commissioner who would be favorably disposed to South Texas bases. The idea didn't fly, however, and DeLay busied himself with other matters.

One of those matters was, and is, a hefty contract with the Regional Transportation Authority here, for which DeLay works as a Washington lobbyist. When his contract - and a separate contract the RTA has with another lobbyist, Chuck Graves - came up for renewal, DeLay found himself back in the crosshairs.

RTA board member and former city councilman John Longoria argued last week that Graves, who holds a $60,000 contract with the agency, provided all the service the authority needs - and for only half the $120,000 that DeLay draws. He complained that DeLay "provided no documentation whatsoever, no reporting on his activities at all," whereas Graves provided a monthly report. Two other board members - Crystal Lyons and John Buckley - joined Longoria in opposing DeLay's contract renewal.

There was, however, a solid majority on the board favoring DeLay, whose contract was approved easily, 7-3.

But the questions raised by those who voted "no" still hover over the scene, unanswered. What exactly does DeLay do for the RTA? And are his services really worth twice as much as Graves'? Are the RTA board members content simply to rubber-stamp DeLay's contract renewal on faith?

It could be that DeLay is worth every penny he gets. But the people in the RTA's taxing region should not be expected to take this on faith. Area residents deserve some answers, and the sooner they are produced, the better.

dannoynted1 said...

High-profile lobbyist Randy DeLay defends his RTA contract
$2.1M authorized for new facility was his doing, he says

By Jaime Powell Caller-Times
September 8, 2005


High-profile Washington lobbyist Randy DeLay told the Regional Transportation Authority board Wednesday that he played an integral part in shepherding millions of dollars in possible federal funding for the local transportation authority, said General Manager Ricardo Sanchez.

In February, despite misgivings from some RTA board members that DeLay had not provided sufficient documentation on how he was earning his hefty fees, the group awarded him a new $120,000




contract.

Although DeLay's contract does not run out until February, board members are monitoring his progress and preparing to debate whether to rehire him next year, said board member Crystal Lyons.

Addressing the RTA board Wednesday morning, DeLay said he helped get $2.1 million authorized in the federal transportation bill for a new RTA maintenance facility, Sanchez said. DeLay also has turned in monthly reports detailing what he is doing to earn the money, which was a sticking point earlier this year for Lyons and fellow board members John Buckley and John Longoria.

Lyons and Buckley still have issues with DeLay's reporting.

"Anything we get he says, 'I did that', " Buckley said. "How do we know that? We need more accessibility and a better report card to determine whether we are getting a good return on our investment and spending taxpayer money wisely."

DeLay would not comment.

Longoria was unavailable for comment.

RTA chairman Mike Rendon and board members Roland Barrera and Joe Benavides said they are pleased with DeLay's lobbying progress.

"I think his strong point is that he knows the members on the Senate and the House," Rendon said. "If you hired me as a lobbyist, I don't have the contacts that he has in the upper echelon of committee members. That is where the influence comes."

Board members Carmen Arias, Davie Cissna, Anna Flores and Wayland Simmons were unavailable for comment.

The rest of DeLay's contract year will be spent working on funding for future RTA streetcar projects and securing the appropriation of at least $2.1 million for the maintenance facility, Sanchez said.

"Quite frankly, we have to go beyond that," Sanchez said. "I am very grateful for his efforts on the $2 million but I would like to see us work with our congressional delegation to see that come out at a higher level because the facility will cost $5 million to $6 million."

Contact Jaime Powell at

886-3716 or HYPERLINK mailto:powellj@caller.com powellj@caller.com

dannoynted1 said...

Privatization, politicians and payola
The glossy GEOworld magazine, distributed at the ACA conference, trumpeted the success of the largest “Private-Public Partnership in the World,” a sprawling detention center complex in Pecos, Texas. Known as the Reeves County Detention Facility (RCDC), the complex consists of prisons for both Bureau of Prisons and Arizona state inmates. According to GEO, “the joint venture … between GEO Group and Reeves County has been a rewarding challenge.”

Unmentioned was the fact that a Reeves County judge, Jimmy Galindo, is facing a lawsuit over his role in granting the private operation and expansive construction of RCDC. According to the local Odessa American newspaper, building RCDC has led to the “near financial ruin of the county.” RCDC is currently the subject of an FBI and Texas Ranger investigation into tampering with government documents. (In addition, two corrections officers resigned in early January 2005 over sexual molestation charges.)

The RCDC is a private-public partnership in more ways than one. Randy DeLay, the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R–Tex.), lobbied the Bureau of Prisons to send its prisoners to RCDC, at the behest of county officials.

Randy DeLay isn’t the only member of his family with an interest in corrections. In December, Rep. DeLay accepted a $100,000 check from the CCA for the DeLay Foundation for Kids.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/1924/

dannoynted1 said...

Main Menu
Home
About Us
Background
Congressional Info Packet
Topics and Categories
Press Room
Contact Us


Take Action
Learn & Educate
Contact Public Officials
Write Op-Eds
Join Campaign
Sign Petition
Subscribe
Submit News & Information
Donate

Search
images
audio
video


topics
Abuse & Injury
Censorship
Community Organizing
Drug War
Information Warfare
Legal & Judicial
Miami Model
Pepper Ball
Pepper Spray
Police Misconduct
Politics & Legislation
RNC
Surveillance/Harassment
Tasers
Timoney
Weapons
Immigrants


categories
Announcement/Action Alert
Commentary
Evidence
Flyer/Art
News
Press Release
Report
Press Clipping
Resources
Testimonial


regions
Miami
New York City
Quebec City
Washington, D.C.
Boston
Philadelphia
Georgia (G8)
Bay Area
Pittsburgh
Portland
Seattle
Chicago


Community
FTAA IMC
STOP FTAA
Miami Activist Defense
United for Peace and Justice
Citizen's Trade Campaign
Public Citizen
Florida Fair Trade Coalition AFLCIO
USWA
Campaign to Demilitarize the Police
Free Speech Savannah
Black Tea Society
RNC Not Welcome
Counter Convention
Still We Rise Coalition

Non-Profit Sponsors
Fiscal Sponsor



Web Host

News

stories-commentary-announcements
audio-video-photo-flyers
2nd Taser death in TX ruled correctly by coroner
15:23 Apr-27
NYC cops used covert tactics, `proactive arrests' at protests
12:15 Mar-17
News Reporters Update / 01/22/06
10:56 Jan-22
Illegal Search and Siezure
21:03 Jan-09
goverment stole my Identity
05:03 Jan-03 (2 comments)
Workplace Mobbing / Gang Stalking / Web Links
10:57 Dec-04
Taser changes marketing language
19:38 Oct-01
PROOF THAT THE BRUTAL "MIAMI MODEL" IS A NATIONAL MODEL FOR PROTEST POLICING
10:15 Aug-29
Counter-Recruitment demonstrators shot with Tasers, bitten by dogs (video)
06:10 Aug-22
Police in 5 states suing taser over injuries (multiple articles)
14:10 Aug-20
Workplace Mobbing / Gang Stalking
10:08 Aug-14
National class action suit against TASER, Int.
16:15 Aug-04
UK: Jane's 8th Annual Less-Lethal Weapons Conference 2005
19:57 Jul-29
Officer rehired after firing for shocking handcuffed man
23:43 Jul-18
Il. Taser will req. Firearm Owner’s Identification Card
23:25 Jul-18
6th Taser Death in Texas
16:40 Jul-13 (2 comments)
SF: Newsom vows more aggression towards anarchists
04:41 Jul-10
SF/ West Coast G8 Arrest Video
04:37 Jul-10
West Coast G8 Legal
04:26 Jul-10
Police Target Medics at G8 - Part of Larger Trend
10:56 Jul-08
newswire archive »
feature: Press Clipping 30-Apr-05 19:05

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Abuse & Injury | Legal & Judicial | Weapons

Tape shows 5 Taser shocks in 1 minute
author: LATEEF MUNGIN [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

A videotape of the struggle between Frederick Williams and Gwinnett County [Georgie] Sheriff's deputies shows he was struck with a Taser stun gun five times within one minute. Within four minutes, the 31-year-old Lawrenceville man had lost consciousness.

Videotape shows Williams tasered repeatedly
His last words were: "Don't kill me, man. Don't kill me."

A videotape of the struggle between Frederick Williams and Gwinnett County Sheriff's deputies shows he was struck with a Taser stun gun five times within one minute. Within four minutes, the 31-year-old Lawrenceville man had lost consciousness.

The tape, filmed at the Gwinnett County jail, was part of an 11-month investigatory file that District Attorney Danny Porter's office released this week. The file became public after Porter announced he will not press criminal charges against deputies involved in the incident. Porter asked the grand jury to consider the case this week.

"The evidence and particularly the videotape raised questions that were most appropriately answered by the grand jury," Porter said. "The grand jury declined to go forward."

Melvin Johnson, an attorney representing Williams' wife and four children, has seen the videotape.

He said he disagrees with the district attorney's decision. He has asked the FBI to investigate.

"He was pleading for his life," Johnson said. "They claim they were trying to immobilize him but he was already in handcuffs. They were clearly trying to inflict pain on a person they thought had injured one of their fellow officers."

Williams was arrested May 25, 2004, during a domestic disturbance at his home.

According to police reports, Williams' family said he refused to take his epilepsy medication and was acting violent and irrational.

Williams got into an altercation with the first officer arriving on the scene, Gwinnett police Officer R.E. Kenyon. According to an incident report, Williams charged the officer and grabbed his baton as Kenyon tried to strike him. The two struggled over the baton and Kenyon lost his balance, falling to the ground, bloodying his nose.

Kenyon called for backup over his police radio. Several officers arrived and tackled and subdued Williams.

He was taken to the jail, where deputies were alerted that they had a "delta," Gwinnett law enforcement slang meaning a combative inmate.

About 11 deputies were standing at the back door of the jail as an officer dropped Williams off, including a deputy who was videotaping the episode.

Williams, his arms handcuffed behind his back, his feet bound, was rocking back and forth in the back of the police car as deputies approached. The deputies grabbed him out of the car and carried him into the jail. As they were carrying him, Williams pleaded with deputies not to kill him. It was his last audible comment.

They carried him through the jail entrance to an area where restraint chairs are located. They placed him in a chair that resembles an adult-sized car seat used to immobilize combative inmates.

Williams appeared to be attempting to free himself from the chair, surrounded by deputies.

One deputy wrapped his arm around Williams' head and chin. Others were holding his arms and legs as Deputy Michael Mustachio applied the Taser to his chest.

One deputy commands Williams to stop resisting.

"Do you want another one?" Mustachio said, referring to the stun gun.

Within one minute, Williams was shocked a total of five times.

His handcuffs were not removed until after he lost consciousness.

Once it was clear that Williams was unconscious, deputies began to administer aid. Someone called for an ambulance.

Williams never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead two days later.

Gwinnett police Detective Steve Shaw investigated the incident and concluded that deputies did not violate the Sheriff's Department policy or any laws.

Link to video:
http://wm.gannett.speedera.net/wm.gannett/wxia/carnes_042905.wmv

source url: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/gwinnett/0405/29taser.html


Add a comment on this article

< Withheld videotape lets DA buck justice 12.May.2005 07:16

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jay Bookman jbookman@ajc.com


Atlanta Journal Constitution
Published on: 05/12/05

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter has a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor. Some even accuse him of being too zealous, and recent cases demonstrate why.

In April, Porter charged a single mother with felony murder after her 3-year-old son was killed in a house fire. Why? Because she had left the boy alone with his 4-year-old brother to go to work, a case other prosecutors might have handled as negligent homicide.

In February, when a 16-year-old driver was indicted on charges of racing and causing a fatal car wreck, Porter charged the girl's father as well, accusing him of providing her a car with bad brakes and bald tires. That decision earned him air time on both CNN and "Good Morning America."

And these days, of course, Porter's face once again adorns national TV as he contemplates whether to file criminal charges in the case of Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride.

In the case of Frederick Williams, though, that trademark Porter aggressiveness has been nowhere in sight.

Williams, who had suffered epilepsy since a toddler, suffered a psychotic breakdown a year ago, was arrested after a struggle and taken to the Gwinnett County Jail. In a bizarre chain of events, Williams died of a heart attack after he was hit with a Taser stun gun five times in 43 seconds, even though at the time he was handcuffed behind his back, his legs were bound to a chair restraint and he was pinned down by a half-dozen officers.

Initially, Porter promised Williams' family a grand jury inquiry, a pledge he proved reluctant to keep. Almost a year later, when Porter finally did convene a grand jury, he did not seek indictments, nor did he bother to show the grand jury a videotape of the deadly incident taken by a sheriff's deputy. Instead, he says, he asked jurors whether they wanted to open an inquiry into the jail's policy regarding Taser use, and they declined.

That decision not to show jurors the videotape has drawn considerable criticism. However, documents obtained through the state Open Records Act suggest there's a lot of other interesting evidence they never saw either.

For example, grand jurors apparently never saw the videotaped questioning of Sgt. Michael Mustachio, the jail officer who made the decision to "hit" Williams with five blasts from a hand-held Taser stun gun. In an interview conducted by detectives with the Gwinnett County Police Department, Mustachio explained why he chose to use the Taser on a fully restrained Williams.

At the time, officers were trying to wrestle Williams into a restraining chair. According to Mustachio, "He was arching his back up, kinda like a kid who you're trying to put in a car seat — you know how they arch their back up? Lt. Cook was giving him commands to stop resisting, so . . . I went over and point-contacted him with the Taser."

The videotape seems to tell a different story, though. It's a little unclear, but it appears that Mustachio applies the Taser first, and that Williams starts bucking only in reaction.

That interpretation is bolstered by yet another videotape that the grand jury probably never saw. (Porter refused to comment when I called him Wednesday.)

As part of their investigation, two officers with the Gwinnett police department, Cpl. Damon Cavender and Lt. William Walsh, volunteered to help recreate the Williams tragedy. Both men were physically restrained by other officers and were then hit with the Taser.

Their physical responses, caught on tape, were almost identical to the response of Williams. All three men arched their backs in a desperate bucking motion.

"While being shocked I felt an extreme amount of physical pain in the area where I was being shocked," Cavender wrote in his official report. "The pain was so intense that I would have done anything to get away from it."

Walsh had a similar response, telling investigators "that although he was bucking and rearing back into the chair, his natural instinct was to get away from the Taser."

It seems pretty clear, given that evidence, that much if not all of the bucking that Mustachio and other deputies interpreted as resistance from Williams was instead just a natural human reaction. Every time Mustachio applied the Taser, Williams bucked in pain. Every time Williams bucked in pain, Mustachio interpreted the action as continued resistance, requiring another Tasing.

Before the fifth and final Tasing, Williams suffered the heart attack that would kill him. He lost consciousness and was never revived.

"After the fifth tap [with the Taser], why did you stop?" Mustachio was asked. "Why wasn't there a sixth?"

"He had stopped bucking," Mustachio said.

In interviews with detectives, Mustachio and other officers on the scene expressed astonishment that Williams kept fighting through the Taser hits, attributing it to almost superhuman strength. However, a later report by the sheriff's Professional Standards Unit suggested another explanation. It noted that the Taser can be used two ways. It can fire a prong up to 20 feet that delivers an electrical charge that incapacitates its human target. It can also be used in "drive-stun" mode, in which the weapon is held against a subject's body and then fired.

Used in drive-stun mode, as it was in the Williams case, the weapon causes intense pain but does not incapacitate.

And even though Mustachio had been certified for Taser use, he told detectives he didn't know the two modes would have different impacts.

As is often the case, Mustachio's character and credibility are important in assessing his description of events. Had they seen his testimony, grand jurors also would have wanted to learn that last January, Mustachio was fired by Sheriff Butch Conway for shooting a neighbor's dog while off duty.

A copy of Mustachio's dismissal letter, released as part of the Open Records request, tells Mustachio that "you shot and killed a dog that was 30-40 yards from your parents' residence because it was barking and causing a disturbance. At no time did you state that you felt the dog was vicious or acting in a threatening manner."

Mustachio fired six or seven shots at the dog, using both a rifle and a .45 caliber pistol, then tried to hide the dog's body from authorities. He cut off the dog's tracking collar and damaged its antenna, so it could not be traced. "Only after a White County deputy was called back to the scene by the dog owner, because the tracking device continued to indicate that the dog was in the area, did you confess to what you had done," the letter stated.

In reading the report by Gwinnett County police and a later report by the sheriff's Professional Standards Unit, it becomes clear that both agencies did a thorough job. The willingness of officers to volunteer for an excruciatingly painful re-enactment, for example, speaks well for their professionalism and bravery.

In both reports, however, investigating officers repeatedly interpret facts and situations in ways that cast their fellow law enforcement officials as positively as possible. There's nothing necessarily corrupt in that phenomenon. It's just human nature, a natural sympathy for colleagues.

That's why an honest, thorough grand jury investigation might have been useful in casting light on what happened, and on ways to avoid such tragedy in the future.

Instead — speaking figuratively — Danny Porter got cold feet and caught the first Greyhound to Albuquerque.

— Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor. His column appears Thursdays and Mondays.



http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/bookman/2005/051205.html



< Taser - Frederick Williams 25.May.2005 11:21

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ckingtruth cvinson268@aol.com


I've been watching the news regarding
the death of Frederick Williams who
was taseered several times in less
than 1 minute. Watching it here
makes my blood boil. I'm also curious
about the time frame. In the video
it shows him going unconsious about
6:17:03. There is a still shot at
6:17:41 that shows a clearly un-
conscious Mr. Williams. He actually
looks dead. Then the tape goes to
6:19 and quickly to 6:20.

I wonder what was going on during
those lapses in time?

Clearly this tape should have been
shown to the Grand Jury. The DA
says they were "told what was in it".
and choice not to see it. Of course
that could depend on how the infor-
mation was presented to them.

Someone should be charged for what
happened to Mr. Williams.


< I wrote my Ca. Senator again 13.Jun.2005 22:08

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dan Williams dcw0103@msn.com


Taser used as insturment of torture and punishment. Please stop this torture instrument!!! My third letter to Congress woman Barbara Box and Ellen O Tausher.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------
Tape shows 5 Taser shocks in 1 minute
author: LATEEF MUNGIN [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Source

A videotape of the struggle between Frederick Williams and Gwinnett County [Georgie] Sheriff's deputies shows he was struck with a Taser stun gun five times within one minute. Within four minutes, the 31-year-old Lawrenceville man had lost consciousness.

Videotape shows Williams tasered repeatedly
His last words were: "Don't kill me, man. Don't kill me."

A videotape of the struggle between Frederick Williams and Gwinnett County Sheriff's deputies shows he was struck with a Taser stun gun five times within one minute. Within four minutes, the 31-year-old Lawrenceville man had lost consciousness.

The tape, filmed at the Gwinnett County jail, was part of an 11-month investigatory file that District Attorney Danny Porter's office released this week. The file became public after Porter announced he will not press criminal charges against deputies involved in the incident. Porter asked the grand jury to consider the case this week.

"The evidence and particularly the videotape raised questions that were most appropriately answered by the grand jury," Porter said. "The grand jury declined to go forward."

Melvin Johnson, an attorney representing Williams' wife and four children, has seen the videotape.

He said he disagrees with the district attorney's decision. He has asked the FBI to investigate.

"He was pleading for his life," Johnson said. "They claim they were trying to immobilize him but he was already in handcuffs. They were clearly trying to inflict pain on a person they thought had injured one of their fellow officers."

Williams was arrested May 25, 2004, during a domestic disturbance at his home.

According to police reports, Williams' family said he refused to take his epilepsy medication and was acting violent and irrational.

Williams got into an altercation with the first officer arriving on the scene, Gwinnett police Officer R.E. Kenyon. According to an incident report, Williams charged the officer and grabbed his baton as Kenyon tried to strike him. The two struggled over the baton and Kenyon lost his balance, falling to the ground, bloodying his nose.

Kenyon called for backup over his police radio. Several officers arrived and tackled and subdued Williams.

He was taken to the jail, where deputies were alerted that they had a "delta," Gwinnett law enforcement slang meaning a combative inmate.

About 11 deputies were standing at the back door of the jail as an officer dropped Williams off, including a deputy who was videotaping the episode.

Williams, his arms handcuffed behind his back, his feet bound, was rocking back and forth in the back of the police car as deputies approached. The deputies grabbed him out of the car and carried him into the jail. As they were carrying him, Williams pleaded with deputies not to kill him. It was his last audible comment.

They carried him through the jail entrance to an area where restraint chairs are located. They placed him in a chair that resembles an adult-sized car seat used to immobilize combative inmates.

Williams appeared to be attempting to free himself from the chair, surrounded by deputies.

One deputy wrapped his arm around Williams' head and chin. Others were holding his arms and legs as Deputy Michael Mustachio applied the Taser to his chest.

One deputy commands Williams to stop resisting.

"Do you want another one?" Mustachio said, referring to the stun gun.

Within one minute, Williams was shocked a total of five times.

His handcuffs were not removed until after he lost consciousness.

Once it was clear that Williams was unconscious, deputies began to administer aid. Someone called for an ambulance.

Williams never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead two days later.

Gwinnett police Detective Steve Shaw investigated the incident and concluded that deputies did not violate the Sheriff's Department policy or any laws.

--------------------------------------------------


Police Taser, Kill Teen Acting Strangely In Horse Pasture
18-Year-Old Allegedly Charged At Officer
Source

AKRON, Ohio -- Springfield Township police are investigating the death of a man after he was stunned with a Taser gun by a police officer, NewsChannel5 reported.

Investigators said that Richard Holcomb, 18, was shirtless and acting strange in a horse pasture just after midnight Saturday. That's when police said he reportedly charged at officer Christine Albrecht.

She ordered Holcomb to stop and then stunned him with the Taser gun.

Holcomb was later pronounced dead at Akron City Hospital. The Summit County Coroner has not yet determined a cause of death.

This is the second time someone has died in Summit County after being shocked by a Taser gun.

Autistic Teenager Is Beaten by Deputies After Being Mistaken for a Prowler
http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBDXKXEM6E.html
The Associated Press
Published: Mar 22, 2005

MOUNTAIN GATE, Calif. (AP) - An autistic teenager suffered a head injury and a broken elbow in a beating by three sheriff's deputies who mistook him for a prowler, authorities say.
Pierre Cowell, a 17-year-old who does not speak, had wandered from his home early Friday.

A neighbor, who did not recognize him, called 911 after seeing him outside her home about 2 a.m., Capt. Tom Bosenko said Monday. The woman became alarmed when she heard the doorknob jiggling, he said.

As three deputies approached the house, Cowell ran toward them and bumped one of them, Bosenko said. When Cowell didn't respond to the officers' commands, they used a baton, stun gun and pepper spray to subdue him.

"The officers were very much concerned for their safety," Bosenko said, adding that the deputies thought Cowell was under the influence of drugs. He said that the officers did not know that an autistic teenager was missing at the time.

Cynthia Cowell said she was unaware her son had left their home Friday until deputies came to her door.

"He doesn't understand anything to do with danger. He has to have someone constantly with him," she said.

She said she was surprised the deputies did not know he was autistic until she told them. "Being totally nonverbal would be a clue," she said.
**************************************************
----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Willams
To: Barbara Boxer ; Nancy Pelosi ; Diane Feinstein
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 10:49 AM
Subject: Kickbacks paid to Local Police by Private Prison-Industry complex, and Taser International.

HEY YOU!

Taser International is paying kickbacks to Police. Is this being investigated in California?

We have police walking around our community with ELECTRIC cattle prods and now we find Taser Internatioal has been paying the Police kickbacks. Also, people are dying--Amnesty International issued a report that blamed at least 74 deaths since 2001 on Tasers.

Are the Democrats in the back pocket of Corporations and just do EVERYTHING they ask without question? We have an attorney general that is involved in torture!!!! Are you trying to turn America into a Latin American dictatorship?

There are alarms sounding here and you're asleep at the wheel.

Taser spokesman, Homeland Security nominee, and crony Bernard Kerik has received millions of dollars from Taser International for lobbying and arming local police departments with this electric torture device--the taser gun.

Kerik is involved with lobbying for the Private Prison-Industrial complex such as the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut), Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) and Correctional Medical Services.

Are you going to wait until for these PRIVATE PRISON cronies start installing CREMATING OVENS? Let's start earlier, OK?

Who is watching this cronyism? What is going on here?

This is CRIME against the American people!!!! DO SOMETHING!!!!

This issue of Stun guns, death, and kickbacks has to be investigated. I emailed all of you about this scandal six months ago and since then dozens of people have died!

The press in not doing its job, the politicians are not resisting these Straussian FASCISTS thugs!!!

quote:
--------------------------------------------------
Cashing In On Cons
By Silja J.A. Talvi, In These Times. Posted February 10, 2005.


"In November 2004, Amnesty International issued a report that blamed at least 74 deaths since 2001 on Tasers and called for a suspension of their use until further studies could prove just how "non-lethal" these weapons were. Headline business news emerged during the ACA conference: Taser executives were reported to have sold $91.5 million of their own stock, raising suspicions that they sought to maximize their own profits before their product lost ground. The company subsequently announced that sales were projected to slow in the months to come. The stock plunged 30 percent. As if all that weren't bad enough, Taser International President Tom Smith said in an interview that four active-duty police officers had been offered stock options for law enforcement training programs they supervised, which in turn had 'led directly to the sale of Tasers to a number of police departments.'

It's a good thing that former Taser spokesman Bernard Kerik cashed in when he did. The former New York City police commissioner made more than $6.2 million in pre-tax profits from the sale of Taser stock in the month leading up to his abortive Homeland Security nomination."

...Randy DeLay, the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), lobbied the Bureau of Prisons to send its prisoners to RCDC [Reeves County Detention Facility], at the behest of county officials.

Randy DeLay isn't the only member of his family with an interest in corrections. In December, Rep. DeLay accepted a $100,000 check from the CCA for the DeLay Foundation for Kids.

The CCA has become a leader in securing private prison contracts. In FY 2003, the CCA generated more than $268.9 million in revenue. Greasing the palms of legislators nationwide hasn't hurt: In 2004, the CCA's political action committee gave $59,000 to candidates for federal office – 92 percent to Republicans.

--------------------------------------------------

dannoynted1 said...

DeLay is out of base battle
Lobbyist won't work for Nueces to fight closure

By Brad Olson Caller-Times
July 9, 2004

A powerful Washington, D.C. lobbyist has withdrawn his offer to represent Nueces County in base closure matters, he said in a telephone interview Friday.

Randy DeLay, owner of Public Private Strategies Consult, Inc, said he told Nueces County Judge Terry Shamsie and his assistant, Tyner Little, that his firm was withdrawing its proposal to represent the area.

DeLay said the proposal, submitted together with the Allbaugh Company, another consulting firm, was withdrawn because "the mischaracterization, the false reporting and efforts by special interests were obviously causing disharmony in the community."

He declined to specify what he meant by special interests.

County officials were divided on what the withdrawal meant for military lobbying in the area, although they said they agreed with DeLay that the proposed contract was dividing the community.

County commissioners voted unanimously May 27 to allot $1.2 million for contract negotiations with Public Private Strategies Consult, Inc., but the measure has met with considerable controversy since it was enacted.

County Commissioner H. C. "Chuck" Cazalas has called the vote a mistake, saying the allotment was not agreed upon with enough safeguards. Since Cazalas stated publicly that he wanted the measure rescinded, commissioner Betty Jean Longoria has said she agreed.

"It's vital that we move forward with an organized approach and method," Cazalas said Friday. "And that could include help both in Austin and in Washington, but it has got to be a team effort that includes the South Texas Military (Facilities) Task Force, their experience and track record."

DeLay said working with the task force was the number one item in his and Joe Allbaugh's proposal.

"The first thing we would be asking is, what have they done," DeLay said. "We would need to understand that and cooperate with that. We will share information with whoever our clients tell us to work with. Discussions I had with the Judge (Shamsie) included that would be without question the first step."

Loyd Neal, the chairman of the task force, said he was glad to hear of DeLay's intentions.

"That's good news," Neal said. "I am not privy to anything Mr. DeLay had done or proposed to the county. But I'm glad to hear that.

"At this stage it's very important that this community speak with one voice and try and have these people assist us in Washington to give us the best possible assistance we can get. Hopefully now, Nueces County will be a partner with us without all the strings attached."

DeLay said he and Allbaugh had seen the contract as a way to give back to Corpus Christi. DeLay grew up in the Calallen area and practiced law in the city in the late 1970s while U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, was Nueces County Sheriff.

"I grew up in Corpus Christi," he said. "And Joe Allbaugh has a personal interest in Texas. He saw an opportunity to come back and do something for Corpus Christi and assist in the effort.

"But whether it be because of media or special interest, the result that's coming out is disharmony of the community. That's not going to serve Corpus Christi whether it be the initiative to support bases in the region or any other initiatives."

DeLay said the proposal, which he submitted to Shamsie in late May, was a multi-year contract for which he and Allbaugh would have received $10,000 a month between them. The plan he proposed was a detailed action plan with different strategies than the task force, he said.

"Any attempt to compare our services to what services the military task force was rendering was from what I understand apples and oranges," DeLay said. "As far as dollars authorized, it was not comparable, and the services were not comparable."

DeLay declined to specify what strategies the proposal laid out, citing the possible detriment it might cause to the lobbying effort. He said only that the items proposed were "detailed items that need to be done that aren't being done at this point in time." He also said he and Allbaugh were planning to identify other individuals or consulting groups that could have contributed to the effort.

Cazalas said he was not aware of any details about DeLay's and Allbaugh's proposal, but that he was more concerned about how the decision to hire DeLay had been introduced.

"I think it is in the best interest that he withdraw," he said of DeLay's decision. "I fully agree with him given what has transpired. I think my issue was the process. And, you know it just seemed like a steamroller process instead of taking the necessary time that is demanded by the voters to study all of the issues and the ramifications and making sure all the alliances are lined up before we spend that kind of money.

"Secondly, I didn't like the idea of putting out a figure that just came out of nowhere. And if it didn't come out of nowhere, evidently someone else had been working the issue and we weren't a part of it.

"I did not do my best work on May 27 and I regret it."

County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz, who proposed allotting the $1.2 million sum as an amendment to a motion that considered funding the task force $50,000, said he was disappointed DeLay and Allbaugh withdrew the proposal.

"I'm disappointed but you will strive to continue the effort to keep the bases open in spite of the characterizations that have been made of our efforts to help out with the effort," he said. "I think they (DeLay and Allbaugh) make a valid point. The media environment created a feeding frenzy. There was very negative connotations because of the pending contract. We hadn't agreed on a price and they were already making negative commentary on the contract."

DeLay said he and Allbaugh would reconsider under the right circumstances. Ortiz said he believed the commissioners court would need to decide what to do next.

"The county's efforts in this case were undermined," Ortiz said. "I'm not saying we're closing the door on any further efforts. After this, we'll probably have to regroup."

DeLay said he resented the implication that his alleged relationship or non-relationship with his brother, House majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugarland, would influence what work he decided to take on. Randy DeLay also said media reports that he and his brother are estranged are false, although the two do not consult with each other about work-related matters.

"I specifically do not discuss with my brother, nor does he know any of my clients, nor do I know his staff or what they do," he said. "We just don't discuss those matters. I love my brother to death and I'm very proud of all the things he's doing. It's just the innuendos and the implications behind those innuendos that I get tired of."

DeLay said he has been traveling to Washington, D.C. for lobbying or consulting work since 1976, when he was in law school and made trips to the capitol on behalf of his father's company. At the time, Tom DeLay had not even been elected as a state representative in Texas.

Contact Brad Olson at 886-3764 or HYPERLINK mailto:olsonb@caller.com olsonb@caller.com

Copyright 2005, Caller.com. All Rights Reserved.

dannoynted1 said...

TEXAS
HALL OF SHAME

PCI, 1114 Brandt Drive, Tallahassee FL 32308



Albert Sneed Correctional Facility
La Villa, Texas
Texson Management Group
April 17, 2000
Two inmates, one convicted of aggravated sexual assault and attempted capital murder, the other a repeated burglar, climbed through an air vent and over a fence to escape. They escaped from the private prison in Texas around 4:00 a.m. (Valley Morning Star, Rio Grande Valley, TX)

Angelina County Jail
Angelina County, Texas
CiviGenics (formerly run by Correctional Services Corporation)
October 26, 2005 Lufkin Daily News
When Angelina County's old downtown jail re-opens for business next year, it will be under familiar leadership. Bob Prince, marketing liaison for CiviGenics Texas, Inc., told Angelina County commissioners that when the jail re-opens under CiviGenics early next year it would be with Ken Stewart at the helm. Stewart served as Angelina County's jail administrator. Stewart was also a vocal supporter of the county's campaign to pass a $10.5 million bond that financed the construction of the county's current jail located on Lufkin Avenue. According to Stewart, the downtown jail was built in 1983 with the ability to hold 63 beds. A 1990 addition to the building increased the jail's inmate capacity by 48 beds to 111 total. Aware of Stewart's recent retirement and his reputation in the business of jail administration, CiviGenics contacted Stewart to see if he could be lured out of retirement, Prince said.

October 12, 2005 Lufkin Daily News
Angelina County commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of new electronic touch-screen voting equipment, made possible by a grant of almost $600,000 through the Help America Vote Act. Commissioners did not take action on Tuesday's agenda item to approve a lease of the county's old jail facility by CiviGenics, a private corrections firm that operates facilities in 16 states, including eight locations in Texas. County Sheriff Kent Henson asked that the commissioners table the contract approval until he could review the wording on the document. "I want to make sure the county doesn't get stuck with some things like we did the last time," Henson said, referring to the previous corrections firm that pulled out after leasing the old county jail facility for less than a year. Commissioners approved tabling the agenda item and will likely consider it at their Oct. 25 meeting. Bob Prince, CiviGenics' government liaison for marketing, was on hand at Tuesday's meeting and told commissioners if his company came on board, it would employ 27 workers and pump more than $1 million into the local economy. Payroll alone would account for about $700,000, he said. In addition, CiviGenics plans to use a familiar face to serve as the facility's administrator in naming Ken Stewart - who served in the same capacity for the county sheriff's office before the new jail facility was built - to oversee operations.

November 10, 2004 KTRE
The old Angelina County jail is locking up. The county started leasing the building about eight months ago to the Correctional Services Corporation so dozens of undocumented immigrants could be housed there. The Immigration and Naturalization Service can no longer afford that arrangement.

Bartlett State Jail
Temple, Texas
CCA
May 31, 2002
Robert L. Moore didn't like the TV show his fellow inmates had voted to watch at a Mineral Wells private prison Sunday afternoon, so he started an argument, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said Thursday. Neither Moore nor the other inmates reported the fight. Moore went to the infirmary Monday, saying he had fallen. Prison officials said he had bruises under both eyes and a cut on his lip. He was given pain medication and sent back to his cell. On Tuesday, Moore became incoherent as he complained of a head injury. He was taken to Palo Pinto General Hospital and later transferred to Harris Methodist Fort Worth. On Wednesday, Moore was pronounced dead at 4:20 p.m. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office preliminarily ruled the death a homicide. The Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility is operated by Corrections Corp. of America and houses 2,100 inmates. Most are classified as nonviolent, Todd said. (Fort Worth Star Telegram)

January 8, 2002
Kyndall Dwight James, 22, who escaped from the Bartlett State Jail in 2000, pleaded guilty Monday to charges of escape, a second-degree felony, and unlawful use of a motor vehicle, a state jail felony. James was sentenced to 20 years in prison. David Lee Sanders, a second Bartlett inmate accused of escaping with James, will stand trial today. (The Statesman)

August 28, 2000
Two convicted felons escape after breaking into the maintenance shop and stealing a cutting tool to cut through the 12-foot perimeter fence. They were caught the next day after a high speed car chase that ended with the escapees' stolen truck tires being shot out. (Austin American-Statesman, August 29, 2000)

Ben Reid Community Correctional Facility
Houston, Texas
Cornell Companies
September 9, 2004 Houston Chronicle
Drug use by employees at a privately run halfway house for paroled felons led to seven resignations this week after the facility's corporate owners called for staffwide drug tests. The departure of the seven workers — including administrators, security guards and caseworkers — was the latest problem at the Ben Reid Community Correctional Facility, which houses up to 500 felons in northeast Houston. The facility is operated by the Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. The seven employees who resigned did so after testing positive for drug use. In May, its director of employee training, Roy Thomas, 50, was arrested after a police officer, acting on a tip, searched his car and found 212 tablets of hydrocodone, an addictive painkiller, and 123 tablets of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, police said. Cornell fired the Ben Reid House's director and several high-level managers last year, citing poor management and violations of numerous company policies.

Bexar County Courthouse
Bexar, Texas
Champion National Security
June 06, 2001
Dissatisfied with current security contractor, Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday to hire its own civilian guards to man the entrances to Bexar County's three courthouse facilities. Henry Martinez, deputy chief of courthouse security for Sheriff Ralph Lopez, said the current contractor, Champion National Security, was assessed more than $85,000 in fines for guards showing up late and for other performance infractions that occurred over a 16-month period that ended April 30. Commissioners also voted to reject all bids received by the March 30 deadline to take over security operations. Among the bidders were Champion, DSS Services, the Wackenhut Corp. and Lobo Security. "You're going to have a better-trained guard in the future than we've had in the past," said County Judge Nelson Wolff, who last week met with Lopez and Commissioner Paul Elizondo to iron out the details of the sheriff's proposal. "The position of the judges, unanimously, is that it (courthouse security) needs to be done by the Sheriff's Department," said 226th District Judge Sid Harle, who is serving as the county's criminal administrative judge. (The San Antonio Express-News)

Bexar County Secure Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center
Bexar County, Texas
Children’s Comprehensive Services/CCS
October, 1998
On October 21, three male inmates kicked open a rear gate and escaped. Less than a week later, another inmate escaped through an unlocked front gate. (San Antonio Express-News, November 11, 1998)

Big Spring Complex
Big Spring, Texas
Cornell
August 16, 2005 AP
Investigators want to know what started an inmate disturbance at a privately run prison in West Texas that left five workers hurt. The assaults happened at the Flightline Unit of the Big Spring Correctional Center. Center spokeswoman Janice Bishop says one staffer required hospital treatment, while the other four suffered minor injuries. Bishop says the unit was slightly damaged in Saturday night's incident. No inmates were injured. Bishop today declined to release further information about the assaults. Big Spring police say the disturbance was contained inside the prison. Texas troopers and the Howard County sheriff's department also responded to the center run by the Houston-based Cornell Companies.

March 13, 2001
A Cornell Corrections inmate escaped over a fence late Sunday night but his freedom was short lived. The inmate, 29-year-old Ernesto Soto-Olivarez climbed over the fence at the Airpark unit around 9:30 p.m. Sunday and was spotted by correctional officers who took after him on foot. He lost the officers in the darkness and about 30 minutes later, he approached a house in the 2600 block of Dow where he asked the resident to call for an ambulance, saying he was suffering from chest pains. The resident called for an ambulance and then, according to Big Spring Police Sgt. Roger Sweatt, the resident made another call to the police station. "The inmate, without realizing it, had come to the residence of an off-duty police officer," said Sweatt. (Big Spring Herald, March 13, 2001)

Bill Clayton Detention Center
Littlefield, Texas
GEO Group (formerly Correctional Services Corporation, formerly run by Corrections Concepts)
October 24, 2006 Yahoo.com
Fitch downgrades the rating on Littlefield, TX's (the city) outstanding $1.6 million combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation (COs), series 1997 to 'BB+' from 'BBB+.' The Rating Outlook is Stable. The downgrade primarily reflects the city's significantly weakened financial position. The general fund balance has been at minimal levels for the past several years, while the detention center fund, which supports the bulk of the city's general obligation debt, is in a deficit unrestricted net asset position, created by the pull-out of Texas Youth Commission (TYC) prisoners in 2003. Some signs of financial improvement are evident, and projected fiscal 2006 results are expected to show a moderate increase in general fund reserve levels as well as a small operating surplus in the detention center fund. Further, the detention center is now fully occupied. Nevertheless, financial stabilization has not been achieved, and the city remains highly dependent on housing outside prisoners to meet operational and debt service requirements of the detention center. Detention center operations, which experienced problems at the onset primarily due to construction delays, were again negatively impacted by the loss of all TYC prisoners in 2003. While TYC offenders were subsequently replaced with state of Wyoming prisoners, the impact on finances was severe and continued through fiscal 2005, evidenced by a $351,000 unrestricted net asset deficit recorded in the detention center fund. In addition, the detention center fund had to rely on support from other funds, most notably a sizable transfer from the water and sewer fund in fiscal 2004, to meet operational and debt service needs. The contract to house Wyoming prisoners was terminated in 2006, and subsequently a new contract with the state of Idaho was implemented. For 2006, officials report that no outside financial support was required and that a $30,000 operating surplus is expected. However, the large deficit will likely remain for sometime and the historical movement of prisoners in and out of the Littlefield facility demonstrates the difficulty of maintaining long-term prisoner contracts. If the city had to levy an interest and sinking fund tax to meet detention center related debt obligations, officials estimate that the overall tax rate would have to double over the current operations and maintenance tax rate, which Fitch believes would be extremely difficult to impose.

September 17, 2004 Star-Tribune
Four Texans have been jailed on charges of assisting two Wyoming inmates in escaping from the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas, last week. Three of the Texans worked as guards at the prison, Littlefield Police Chief Bill McMinn said. Arrested and charged with permitting and facilitating the escape of a convicted felon were Roy Sosa and Yvonne Delagarza, who both worked as guards at the detention center. They were being held in the Lamb County Jail on $50,000 bond each and face two to 20 years in prison if convicted. Delagarza's brother, Robert Sandoval, and Tammy Harper, another prison guard, also have been charged in the incident with hindering the apprehension of a felon, a crime that carries a one- to 10-year prison sentence. They were also in jail on $50,000 bonds. McMinn said the motive for the escape appears to be that the women guards, Harper and Delagarza, were in love with the inmates.

September 16, 2004 Houston Chronicle
Four of the five federal inmates who escaped from a Frio County private prison last month remained at large Thursday, but officials said they've nabbed two people who helped the escapees vanish into a protective underworld of prison-gang sympathizers. Held on charges of instigating or aiding a federal escape are Randy Folsom, 42, and Debra Ayala, 44, both of San Antonio. U.S. Marshals Service officials, who arrested them Wednesday, said Folsom drove as many as four of the "Frio Five" escapees from the Pearsall lockup Aug. 6. The five inmates exited the private prison in daylight through cuts in the chain-link fencing of the recreation yard. Investigators also are trying to determine whether prison personnel aided in the escape.

September 11, 2004 Casper Star Tribune
Two Wyoming inmates were back in custody Friday, after escaping from a Texas detention center the night before. Michael Solis and Jeremiah Zupko apparently cut through a fence to escape from the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas.

September 10, 2004 KCDB
Littlefield police arrested five people involved in a prison break at the Bill Clayton Detention Center, a private facility in Littlefield. So far, their investigation has led them to believe two female prison guards, Iyvonne Delagarza and Tammy Harper, may be involved. Janet Simmons' daughter works at the prison with one of the women who is suspected. At around 9:30 Thursday night, 35-year-old Michael Solis and 22-year-old Jeremiah Zupko cut their way through two layers of fence and razor wire using some kind of cutting tool. Police say they are investigating how the inmates got the tool. Police have not figured out a motive for the prison break and why these two female guards would have reason to help them. The inmates initially were serving time for selling methemphetamines and heroin in Wyoming.

August 26, 2003
As the deadline nears for the Texas Commission for Youth to leave the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, interest in the facility continues to heat up. TCY intends to vacate the premises by Sept. 1, transferring juvenile residents to other TCY facilities. Corrections Concepts Inc., a faith-based organization headquartered in Dallas, devoted about five hours last week to meet with Littlefield city officials and tour the facility. "At this point we're considering some of the things they talked about," City Manager Danny Davis said Monday. The two entities plan to meet again in September. "They're going to try to have facilities for males, females, juveniles and geriatrics," Davis said. "Ours would be more likely ... adult males." Financial terms were not discussed, he said. "We did tell them what it would take to make our facility cash (needs)," Davis said. Corrections Concepts would use the facility for a Christian-based prison program. The organization is in the final stage of starting a similar facility in Coleman that will likely house state and federal prisoners. "This is falling in line with President Bush's faith-based initiatives," Davis said. He added that the community of Littlefield is "really interested" in faith-based programs for the detention center. "We're interested in seeing men's lives changed," said Bill Robinson, chairman of trustees of Corrections Concepts. Under the program, men in their final 12 to 24 months of their prison terms, regardless of their offenses, could be transferred to the facility. There they would receive Christian-based transition training. If Corrections Concepts were to use the Littlefield facility, about $1.5 million in capital improvements would be made in constructing a work center, Robinson said. Those funds would come from a "number of sources," he said. Private industry would be allowed to set up shop in the medium-security facility and hire inmates at prevailing wage rates. (Lubbock Online)

Bi-State Jail/Bowie County Detention Center
Bowie County, Texas
CiviGenics
August 19, 2006 Texarkana Gazette
A professional tax preparer has been sentenced to three years probation for her conviction of conspiracy to file false tax claims against the U.S. government. Colleen D. Jordan, 44, of Texarkana, Texas, had originally pleaded innocent to the charges in federal court in Texarkana, Texas. She later changed her plea and was recently sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Folsom. In addition to a three year sentence, Jordan must also pay a $1,000 fine. Jordan was charged on Jan. 10 by a federal grand jury in Tyler with one count of conspiracy to file false IRS claims, 12 counts of filing false IRS claims, and 12 counts of possession of authentication features with intent to defraud the United States. The other charges were dropped after her sentencing. She had been employed by the Arkansas Department of Correction since 1999 but was fired by ADC in 2003. Civigenics, a private contractor that now runs the jail, hired her in December 2003.

January 23, 2006 Texarkana Gazette
A former Bi-State Justice Building jailer and a tax preparer have been indicted on 25 federal counts that they used inmates’ Social Security numbers to get more than $50,000 in tax refunds for themselves. Janice F. Koontz, 30, of Texarkana, Ark., and Colleen D. Jordan, 44, of Texarkana, Texas, have both pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court in Texarkana, Texas. They were each charged by a federal grand jury in Tyler on Jan. 10 with one count of conspiracy to file false IRS claims, 12 counts of filing false IRS claims, and 12 counts of possession of authentication features with intent to defraud the United States. Jordan, according to the indictment, was a professional tax preparer. Koontz was a jailer at the BJB jail and a security officer at Smith-Keys Village Apartments. She was employed by the Arkansas Department of Correction since 1999 but was fired by ADC in 2003. Civigenics, a private contractor that now runs the jail, hired her in December 2003. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Bryant alleges that Koontz obtained names, Social Security numbers and other means to identify inmates incarcerated in the BJB. She worked for Smith-Keys from 2000 to 2002. Bryant alleges that Koontz also gained access to the security office of the apartments and obtained names and means of identifying the tenants without the knowledge of the housing authority or the residents. Jordan allegedly worked with Koontz to create W-2 forms using the names and Social Security numbers of the inmates and residents. Forms were allegedly electronically filed with the IRS in 2003 using information gathered since 2000. The women allegedly divided up more than $50,000 in fraudulent tax refunds.

December 30, 2005 Baxter Bulletin
An inmate at the Bi-State Jail died early Wednesday after having a fight with another inmate at the jail, authorities say. Texarkana Police Department spokesman Chris Rankin said Damien Wheeler, 23, of Texarkana, Ark., was involved in a fight with another inmate, Nathaniel Cleveland, 19, of Texarkana, Texas, between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Rankin said police don't know why the inmates were fighting. "The details are still pretty sketchy as far as what was going on in the jail," Rankin said Thursday. "All we know is they were involved in a fight, they were separated, and at some point this guy went downhill extremely fast and died." Wheeler, who was checked by a jail nurse after the fight, was found unresponsive several hours later, Rankin said. Wheeler was taken to Wadley Regional Medical Center at 5 a.m. Wednesday and was pronounced dead, he said.

June 23, 2005 Texarkana Gazette
Even though Bowie County recently made what appears to be a lucrative deal to hold some 325 state inmates, the county will actually collect less than a quarter of the income. Last week, the county's Commissioners Court approved a contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, in which the county agrees to lease 325 of its Correctional Center spaces to hold the state inmates. The contract calls for the state to pay the county $39 per inmate, per day, which in a year's time would amount to about $4,626,000. However, since the county no longer employs jailers, more than 75 percent (roughly $3,479,000) of that income will have to go to Civigenics, a private security firm, which the county hired in November 2001 to operate and maintain the jail annex near Union Station in downtown Texarkana. Although the county would get the remaining 25 percent of the annual income, amounting to about $1,163,000, Bowie County Auditor William Tye said much of that money will be easily swallowed up by residual state inmate medical and meal expenses.

April 24, 2005 TylerPaper.com
Smith County inmates have been moved from the Bowie County Detention Center to other facilities operated by the CiviGenics firm, because the Bowie County facility failed its most recent inspection, county officials announced. On Monday, Smith County commissioners are scheduled to consider interlocal agreements with Falls and Limestone counties to house male and female prisoners. "Those agreements are really just routine in nature," County Judge Becky Dempsey said. "We had to enter into an agreement with Bowie County when we began shipping our prisoners there, even though the jail there is operated by the private company." The changes will come at no charge to Smith County, she adds. "The terms are exactly the same, according to information the sheriff gave us," she said. "And Bowie County took care of the expenses involved in moving our prisoners to the other counties."

March 21, 2005 Texarkana Gazette
A Bowie County Detention Center inmate from Grayson County, Texas, had about five minutes of freedom Sunday morning before he was recaptured. Warden Larry Johns said the inmate was being escorted by an officer in the sally port area about 10 a.m. The garage type door was being opened to allow officers to bring food into the detention center from the Bi-State Justice Center, located about a block away in downtown Texarkana, Texas. Johns said the inmate, who is serving time for public intoxication from Grayson County, broke away from the officer and slid under the garage door. Two other officers and the supervisor started chasing the inmate at 10:02 a.m. At 10:07 a.m. the inmate was recaptured. Johns declined to release the name of the inmate since it was misdemeanor.

February 26, 2005 Texarkana Gazette
A former CiviGenics jailer has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a female inmate inside an office at the Bi-State jail, an official said. Steven Bradley Grisham, 35, of DeKalb, Texas, was arrested Friday on charges of violating the civil rights of a person in custody and sexual activity with a person in custody, said Bowie County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy James Manning.

October 15, 2004 Texarkana Gazette
Several employees have lost their jobs as Bi-State jail and Bowie County Correctional Center strengthen security after the recent escape of a capital murder suspect. CiviGenics Inc., a Massachussetts-based company, has operated both jails since January. "We have made some leadership changes ... it's an opportunity to fine-tune," said Jim Shaw, regional director for Civigenics Inc. The escape of Henry, 28, and two other inmates has also prompted CiviGenics to evaluate security and make some other changes. There have been two other escapes from Bi-State jail since CiviGenics took over operations.

October 14, 2004 KTBS
An internal investigation at the Bi-State Jail in Texarkana has led to both physical changes in the jail facility and changes in the security system. The investigation was prompted by last month's escape of three inmates. Officials with Civigenics, which operates the jail, won't comment specifically on the physical changes for security reasons, but tell us they did find vulnerabilities in the jail system and that their investigation isn't over.

September 29, 2004 Texarkana Gazette
A capital murder suspect, who escaped Tuesday morning from the Bi-State Justice Building jail with two other inmates, remained at large late Tuesday despite an intense manhunt by local law enforcement. The search for Torrence Henry, 28, of Hope, Ark., was expected to continue overnight. Henry escaped with two other Bi-State inmates sometime before 4 a.m. Tuesday, said Bi-State Jail Warden Bob Page. Henry is considered extremely dangerous. Medical staff noticed one of the pod's inmates was missing about 4 a.m., Page said. The staff then searched the pod's shower area and found that the escapees had apparently torn a hole in the shower's plaster ceiling and escaped through the ventilation system. They made their way to an electric control room and eventually down the stairwell of one of the building's interior fire escapes. On Tuesday afternoon, the mother of one of the suspects who was apprehended spoke out about her frustration with the Bi-State jail. She said her son had escaped before, and that apparently no changes have been made to improve security. "I was very relieved he didn't get very far. Even though he was wrong to do that (escape), I feel like they are giving him rope to hang himself with by not keeping him in a secure environment," she said. "I know he would be safer in jail than out running around."

September 28, 2004 Texarkana Gazette
Bowie County will have to absorb about $390,000 in Bi-State Justice Building expenses but property taxes will not have to be increased as a result. The county is paying the extra amount for having to extend its contract with Civigenics Inc. Specifically, the county incurred the added expense when the Arkansas Department of Correction decided at the end of last year to withdraw its jailers from having to guard Bi-State inmates.

July 23, 2002
Sixteen jailers at Bowie County Correctional Center will be laid off this week, according to Warden Robert Page. CiviGenics Texas, Inc., sent letters to the affected officers last week. Their positions will be eliminated as of Friday due to "a decline in the inmate population," Page said. The 488-bed facility nudged between the Bi-State Justice Center and the railroad yard in downtown Texarkana was housing 245 inmates as of Monday afternoon, Page said. (The Texarkana Gazette)

B.M. Moore Correctional Center
Overton, Texas
CCA
November 24, 2005 Disability Compliance Bulletin
A corrections officer sued her former employer, Corrections Corp. of America, claiming it failed to accommodate her disability after a work-related vehicular accident. (Cole v. Corrections Corp. of America, No. 05-cv-00411 (E.D. Texas complaint filed 10/31/05).) The case was originally filed in the District Court of Rusk County, Texas, where it was case number 2005-450. The lawsuit, which alleges violations of Title I of the ADA and Texas state law, seeks back pay, compensation for emotional pain, inconvenience and mental anguish, court costs and attorney's fees. Cole, a corrections office at the B.M. Moore Correctional Center in Overton, Texas, was injured in a vehicular accident during the scope of her employment. The accident, which occurred in July 2004, left her with wrist, back, hip and leg injuries. The complaint charges that over the next year, Cole was repeatedly discriminated against on the basis of her disability, and classified in a manner that would deprive her of opportunities for advancement.

Bradshaw State Jail
Henderson, Texas
Management and Training Corporation
November 25, 2003
Private prison-management corporations and their employees may be sued under §[1983 by a prisoner who has suffered a constitutional injury. FACTS: Billy Rosborough is a prisoner in the Bradshaw State Jail, a Texas prison owned and operated by defendant Management and Training Corp., a private prison-management corporation. Defendant Chris Shirley is a corrections officer employed by MTC at the jail. Rosborough sued MTC and Shirley under 42 U.S.C. §[1983 alleging that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment when Shirley maliciously slammed a door on Rosborough's fingers, severing two fingertips. Rosborough also alleges that Shirley displayed deliberate indifference to Rosborough's resulting serious medical condition. In addition, Rosborough alleges that MTC is liable under 42 U.S.C. §[1983 for its improper training and supervision of Shirley. Rosborough supplemented his federal action with state-law negligence claims. The district court sua sponte dismissed Rosborough's action on the ground that Shirley was an employee of MTC rather than an employee of the State of Texas and, therefore, was not acting under color of state law for purposes of suit under 42 U.S.C. §[1983. The court dismissed the supplemental state-law claims but did not address MTC's potential liability for failing to train Shirley. Rosborough appeals. HOLDING: Reversed and remanded. "To state a claim under §[1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 [1988]. At issue here is the "under color of state law" requirement. The district court assumed that this requirement prevented a person in private employ from being sued under §[1983. The Supreme Court, however, has held that "[t]o act"under color' of law does not require that the accused be an officer of the state." Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 [1970]. Under the Supreme Court's "public function" test, a private entity acts under color of state law "when that entity performs a function which is traditionally the exclusive province of the state." Wong v. Stripling, 881 F.2d 200 [5th Cir. 1989]. The Supreme Court has explained that "when private individuals or groups are endowed by t he State with powers or functions governmental in nature, they become agencies or instrumentalities of the State and subject to its constitutional limitations." Evans v. Newton, 382 U.S. 296 [1966]. Thus, the Supreme Court has found private actors to be susceptible to suit under §[1983. Relevant to this case, the Supreme Court has suggested -- though it has not actually held -- that state prisoners might bring suit under §[1983 against privately-owned correctional facilities. In Skelton v. Pri-Cor Inc., 963 F.2d 100 [6th Cir. 1991], the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, relying on these Supreme Court precedents, held that a private company administering a state corrections facility could be sued under §[1983. The Sixth Circuit found determinative the fact that the corporation was "performing a public function traditionally reserved to the state." The court reasoned that "the power exercised by [the private prison-management company] is possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law.'" Moreover it found that "'[t]here is a sufficiently close nexus between the State and the challenged action of [the corporation] so that the action of the latter may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.' Thus, according to the Sixth Circuit, the private corporation "acted under color of law for purposes of §[1983." District courts within this circuit have similarly held that private prison-management companies and their employees are subject to §[1983 liability because they are performing a government function traditionally reserved to the state. The court agrees with the Sixth Circuit and with those district courts that have found that private prison-management corporations and their employees may be sued under §[1983 by a prisoner who has suffered a constitutional injury. Clearly, confinement of wrongdoers -- though sometimes delegated to private entities -- is a fundamentally governmental function. These corporations and their employees are therefore subject to limitations imposed by the Eighth Amendment. The court finds that the district court erred in dismissing Rosborough's §[1983 claim. (Texas Lawyer)

Brazoria County Jail
Brazoria, Texas
Capitol Corrections Resources
November 30, 2005 The Facts
Brazoria County Pct. 2 Commissioner Jim Clawson announced Tuesday he won't seek re-election next year, opting for retirement after four terms. Clawson said he had few regrets about his tenure, but wishes he could have stopped the county from entering a contract with a private prison company to house out-of-state prisoners from Missouri. Clawson voted against the project at every stage, predicting it would turn out badly for the county because there was no guarantee it wouldn't end up with maximum security inmates, despite assurances to the contrary, he said. That, in fact, is exactly what happened, leading to the 1996 shakedown, which was caught on videotape. The county ended up settling a lawsuit brought by inmates for $2.2 million. As Clawson predicted, the jail never became the revenue-generating machine officials hoped it would.

January 1, 2000
A record $2.2 million class-action lawsuit reached between inmates and CCR. Suit stemmed from videos made of guards abusing inmates.

March 2, 1997
Video tape made of Missouri inmates being abused.

September 18, 1996
Video tape made of Missouri inmates being abused.

Bridgeport Correctional Center
Bridgeport, Texas
GEO Group
June 28, 2005 Wise County Messenger
The Office of the Inspector General will investigate the death of an inmate who was housed at the Corrections Corporation of America in Bridgeport. Julia Martinez, 29, collapsed Wednesday afternoon and was pronounced dead a short time later at Wise Regional Health System. Warden Gwen Bowers said Martinez reportedly collapsed in the facility’s outdoor exercise area. Paramedics were called and transported Martinez to WRHS.

June 7, 2005 Wise County Messenger
The Rev. Gil Pansza and an official with The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth met with officials of the Bridgeport Correctional Center Wednesday to discuss Pansza’s dismissal as a volunteer from the men’s division of the center, but Pansza said he remains barred from the facility. “They didn’t invite me back,” said Pansza, pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church in Bridgeport and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Decatur. Pansza and Ralph McCloud, division director of the Social Justice Ministry of the diocese, said they met with senior warden Priscella Miles, assistant warden Bobby Thompson and chaplain Phillip Yoder at the center. Pansza said Yoder told him a couple of weeks ago that his services were no longer necessary at the center, which Pansza had been visiting since February. Miles said in a previous story that Pansza was barred because of his demeanor and because the prison feared a security issue could occur with Catholic prisoners. On Wednesday, Pansza said the entire group met for almost an hour, and then Miles and McCloud met privately for a half-hour. “Warden Miles was interested in better understanding what our concerns were, and I think she was pretty patient in listening to what I had to say,” Pansza said. “She gave an opportunity for the chaplain to say what his views were and then to warden Thompson as to what his views were. Her concern is that there’s an allegation of discrimination. I pointed out that that allegation was not by the church. And she mentioned that the allegation really came from the community. On prison officials’ concerns about security issues, Pansza said Thompson mentioned that he was concerned about “offender manipulation.” Pansza said officials were concerned that he would tell the offenders that the institution was not giving him access to prisoners, and that “the offenders would be quite upset about that and maybe that would become a security issue.” “I guess I can understand that,” Pansza said. “That’s certainly not something I would want to do. But I can understand his concern.” Yet Pansza said Thursday that he’s confused about Thompson’s justification on the matter of security concerns. On the day Thompson told Pansza that he supported Yoder’s decision to bar Pansza from the prison, the subject of security concerns was never broached, Pansza said. Pansza said he thinks that issue emerged after the fact. Pansza said one offender in segregation asked to see his priest but was denied access. Pansza said Yoder told him that the warden said the prison was ready to transfer him to another unit.

June 2, 2005 Wise County Messenger
A Wise County priest says he has been barred from performing church services or visiting with offenders at the men’s division of the Bridgeport Correctional Center. The Rev. Gil Pansza, pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church in Bridgeport and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Decatur, said he doesn’t know why he has been prevented from celebrating Mass or talking with prisoners. Priscella Miles, senior warden at the prison, said Tuesday that Pansza has been barred from the prison, but that she is open to talking with him. She said she talked with him last week and hopes to hear from him again this week. Pansza said problems emerged three weeks ago, after he saw another church service advertised on flyers on two bulletin boards at the facility. He asked Chaplain Phillip Yoder whether Catholic Masses could be advertised on flyers on 12 bulletin boards at the prison. He said he also asked whether Thursday Mass could be placed on the monthly religious service calendar. The Mass was later advertised on a corrected calendar, Pansza said. Pansza said he and Yoder discussed church postings on bulletin boards. Yoder agreed to allow the posting of the Catholic service flyers. About a week later, before Pansza’s next Mass, Pansza said he visited with Yoder, who was upset about their previous meeting and said he thought Pansza had questioned his integrity. After some discussion on the bulletin boards and prisoner visitation – Pansza said he apologized to Yoder if he offended him and that he was just trying to ensure Catholic Masses receive the same treatment as others – Yoder told Pansza that he was a guest in the facility and that he was under his supervision. Pansza said understood prison rules but told him that he would not “tolerate disparate treatment” from Yoder’s office or anyone else, meaning that he didn’t accept what he thought was Yoder’s office promoting one church service over another. “I guess he didn’t like that,” Pansza said. Pansza said Yoder then told him that his services were no longer necessary at the prison, Pansza said. Miles said The GEO Group Inc. – which contracts with the state to manage the Bridgeport unit – and the Bridgeport Correctional Center support all religions.

Bridgeport Pre-Parole and Transfer Facility
Bridgeport, Texas
Corrections Corporation of America
June 28, 2005
The Office of the Inspector General will investigate the death of an inmate who was housed at the Corrections Corporation of America in Bridgeport. Julia Martinez, 29, collapsed Wednesday afternoon and was pronounced dead a short time later at Wise Regional Health System. Warden Gwen Bowers said Martinez reportedly collapsed in the facility’s outdoor exercise area. Paramedics were called and transported Martinez to WRHS.

Brooks County Detention Center
Falfurrias, Texas
Louisiana Corrections Services
September 15, 2004 Caller-Times
The manhunt for an escaped prisoner continued Tuesday as officers combed the area surrounding the Brooks County Detention Center with dogs, on horseback and by helicopter, Sheriff Balde Lozano said. On Monday, Elias Ramirez Martinez, 20, of Veracruz, Mexico, escaped from the privately owned holding center. Inmates were being moved from an eating area just before 7 p.m. when Martinez made his getaway, jumping a 10-foot electric fence, Lozano said. It was the facility's first breakout since September 2002, when two inmates escaped through the detention center's ceiling. Measures have been taken since then to prevent similar escapes. Ceilings were enclosed with heavy mesh and the electrical fence was installed, Lozano said. It was not known if the fence was activated when Martinez jumped it.

September 29, 2002
Falfurrias residents reacted with fear and worry after learning that two inmates escaped form the privately owned Brooks County Detention Center early Saturday. The two men, Juan Guerra and Steven Torres, were being held at the facility prior to their trials. Guerra, a Mexican national, had been charged with murder and Torres was arrested for a parole violation- an alleged robbery. The two men were missing during an inmate headcount at 7 a.m. after they had been present for a similar count at 3 a.m., said Patrick LeBlanc, president of the Louisiana-based LCS Corrections Services Inc., the company that oversees the operations of the detention facility. "I don't think it was whim ," he said. "I think they studied and analyzed and searched for the scene and unfortunately they found it." The two men kicked through a security ceiling that was welded shut, LeBlanc said. Then, they climbed into the ceiling and got into a mechanical chase that the facility's pipes run through- similar to the escape in the movie "Shawshank Redemption," he said. The chase leads to a door locked form the outside that opens on the detention center grounds, he said. There, the two men, wearing detention-center issued orange uniforms with white T-shirts, scaled two double fences, each topped with three lines of razor wire. Investigators found a blood trail, LeBlanc said. As the search gout under way, residents learned of the news by word of mouth. About half a dozen people called KPSO-Radio 106.3 news director Steve Cantu to express their concerns. "A lot of people are worried," he said. "These are not some of the nicest people out there." LeBlanc said the detention center does not have a procedure to alert area residents of an escape, instead turning over the information to local law enforcement to get the word out. (Caller-Times)

Central Texas Parole Violator Facility
San Antonio, Texas
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
September 2, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
Eight local residents, including two former jail guards, pleaded guilty Thursday to participating in a bank-fraud conspiracy that netted between $90,000 and $160,000. The scheme stretched from July 2003 to October 2004 and involved opening 52 accounts at Bank of America branches and depositing checks from a closed account or empty envelopes and quickly withdrawing cash before bank officials caught on, court records noted. The case ensnared 12 defendants and is among the first brought to federal court by a U.S. Secret Service-led task force formed in October 2004 to target identity-theft rings and other organized financial crime rackets. Court documents allege Santos Lopez III, 27, his girlfriend, Estella Ramirez, and Bruno Alejandro Jr., 40, devised the scheme and managed the operation. Court records said the recruits were given startup money by the organizers to open the accounts. The recruits would then hand over personal identification numbers and ATM cards to Lopez or Ramirez. Checks from a closed bank account would then be deposited through automated tellers, and cash withdrawals would be made almost immediately, according to the court documents. The court record showed recruits would be given part of the proceeds, and Lopez and others spent much of the proceeds on cocaine. Also pleading guilty Thursday were: Alejandro Regino, Manuel Riojas, Jessica Guevara, Belinda Contreras, Angelica Guerra and Lopez's ex-girlfriend, Sophia Martinez, whom Lopez started a relationship with while she was a guard and he was incarcerated in San Antonio. Officials said both Martinez and Guerra worked at the jail, operated by the Florida-based GEO Group Inc., during the conspiracy. Both were terminated.

February 16, 2005 Express-News
A former guard who admitted trying to smuggle methamphetamine into a private downtown jail that holds federal inmates was sentenced Tuesday to 2 1/2 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez allowed Lou Cindy Ford, 39, to turn herself in to federal prison officials by June 3. Ford, who worked at the old Central Texas Parole Violators Facility across the street from the main police station, pleaded guilty last year to intending to distribute 50 grams to 500 grams of the drug. Ford 's plea agreement said she was caught trying to deliver four ounces to an inmate in exchange for $800 during an undercover sting July 27, 2003. Ford was arrested later that day after she drove back to the jail, which is run by Florida-based GEO Group Inc.

February 2, 2005 KSAT
A 19-year-old guard at the GEO Central Texas Detention Facility in San Antonio has been placed on unpaid leave following his arrest on drug and alcohol charges. According to a San Antonio Police Department report, Manuel Castillo was arrested early Tuesday after he allegedly smuggled drugs and alcohol into the federal facility. During Castillo's midnight break, he left in his vehicle and later returned to the facility at 218 South Laredo carrying a clear bottle filled with vodka, the report said. Police also found some cocaine concealed in a sock and some tobacco tucked inside his belt line. Castillo, who was hired in July 2004, is the fourth detention officer arrested for allegedly bringing contraband into the facility in the past 2 ½ years.

December 20, 2004 Express-News
Two San Antonio women have admitted they helped deliver a car and money for a jailbreak attempt by several inmates, including alleged members of the Texas Mexican Mafia. Estella Soto, 27, and Paula Soto, 23, have struck plea deals in which they've agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy in an escape attempt from a privately run jail downtown. Inside the lockup, which is run by The Geo Group Inc. of Florida, Soto was to escape through a window along with alleged Mexican Mafia general Jimmy Zavala, 35, reputed Mexican Mafia member Gerardo Sanchez, 31, and David A. Straughn, 31.

November 5, 2004 Express-News
A guard at a privately run jail that holds federal prisoners was released on bond Thursday after pleading not guilty to planning to smuggle heroin into the lockup. A federal grand jury indicted Juan Roberto Ortiz, 40, on Wednesday. Ortiz had worked at the jail since November 2003 and has been placed on unpaid leave, said Pablo Paez, spokesman for Florida-based GEO Group Inc., which runs the jail.

November 1, 2004 Express-News
A guard at a privately run jail for federal inmates made his first court appearance today on charges that he tried to smuggle heroin and cocaine into the lockup. During an initial hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo ordered Juan Roberto Ortiz held pending a bail hearing on Thursday. Before his arrest this weekend, Ortiz, 40, had worked at the Central Texas Parole Violators Facility since November 2003, according to Pablo Paez, spokesman for The Geo Group, the Florida-based company that runs the jail. Ortiz's arrest was the latest for guards who worked at the jail. In the past year, Jessica Lee Piña, 24, and David C. Higginbotham, 42, have gone to prison for trying to smuggle drugs into the lockup. Lou Cindy Ford, 39, pleaded guilty in March to intending to distribute 4 ounces of methamphetamine at the jail. She awaits sentencing.

March 16, 2004
A former jail guard accused of trying to smuggle methamphetamine into the Wackenhut detention facility downtown has struck a plea deal. Lou Cindy Ford, 39, is scheduled to finalize the agreement by pleading guilty today in federal court to intending to distribute between 50 grams to 500 grams of meth. She faces five to 40 years in prison. (San Antonio Express-News)

August 7, 2002
A jail guard who crashed a van carrying six prisoners into a downtown lamppost earlier this week does not have a driver's license, state officials said Tuesday. The van, operated by the private security firm Wackenhut Corp., had just exited the feral courthouse parking lot shortly before 5 p.m. Monday when the vehicle swerved toward the curb. Three inmates were treated for "bruises and soreness" and sent back to their cells at the privately operated Laredo Street lockup, said Al Pacheco, the Wackenhut warden. Cited for driving without a license, the driver was likewise treated and released at Christus Rosa Hospital. The wreck served as a bloodless reminder of an earlier fiasco for the U.S. Marshals service, which contracts with the Wackenhut and oversees federal prisoners awaiting trial in the Western District of Texas. Two federal inmates died in April when a prisoner transport operated by the private security firm CiviGenics crashed en route from El Paso. Wackenhut's Pacheco said he did not know how many times the driver, who started working as a Wackenhut guard five months ago, had driven the daily transports to the federal courthouse on East Durango Boulevard. (San Antonio Express-News)

April 3, 2002
A jailer was arrested last week on charges that he accepted money and what he believed to be heroin from an undercover agent, promising to take the illegal drug inside the privately-owned federal correction facility where he worked. David Higginbotham was arrested March 26 outside the Central Texas Parole Violator Facility, a Wackenhut detention center located downtown. (San Antonio Express-News)

Sept. 5, 1996
A week after a double murderer from Oklahoma escaped through a 6-inch window, officials at Wackenhut Corrections Center say they are stepping up security at the private jail. The escape of John Ray Davis, 21, prompted prison management to decide to spend $20,000 on new doors and security locks and to implement new procedures in the coming weeks, officials said. (Houston Chronicle)

Children's Assessment Center Foundation
Harris, Texas
January 16, 2002 Harris County Commissioners Court approved an agreement Tuesday changing how the county and a nonprofit group run a renowned center for sexually abused children. The new contract with the Children's Assessment Center Foundation is the result of months of study, and officials said its approval resolves problems that have dogged the program for the past year. County Auditor Tommy Tompkins said last year the foundation owed the county $1.5 million reimbursement for some expenses. Officials feared the center had become distracted from that mission last year after Tompkins' discovery of the $1.5 million debt and allegations that Ellen Cokinos, the center's first director, was mismanaging the program. Cokinos -- a county employee -- came under court scrutiny after employees, volunteers and state and local officials accused her of falsifying reports on the number of children served by the center, using employees for personal errands and damaging relations between the CAC and partner agencies. Cokinos, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, resigned in May, saying her departure was best for the program she helped build. The allegations led to investigations by auditors and District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. The auditors helped tweak financial controls over the center, and prosecutors said in November they found no indictable offenses. (Houston Chronicle)

Cleveland Pre-Release Center
Cleveland, Texas
CCA
Sept. 3, 1998
Corrections Corporation of America is pulling out of the pre-release prison here, citing a disagreement with the local school board over money owed in lieu of taxes. CCA served officials notice this week to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that it will no longer manage the Cleveland Pre-Release Center in Liberty County after Dec. 31, said company spokesperson Laurie Shanblum. "It is the result of a difference of opinion between CCA and the Cleveland Independent School District regarding the annual amount of money to be paid in lieu of taxes to the school district." School board president Walter Stovall said CCA's announcement took him by surprise. The board, he said, was merely enforcing CCA's tax obligation and was willing to listen to abatement proposals. "It's terrible," County Commissioner Melvin Hunt said. "Almost everybody is unhappy. The county and city have been giving tax abatements to CCA for a long time." The trouble between CCA and the Cleveland school district started in 1995 - more than five years after the facility now valued at $13.2 million, was built to house 520 state inmates within two years of release. That year the school district sued the for-profit corporation in federal court for reducing their $180,000 annual tax payment by $100,000 without permission. Last month, the school district's lawsuit against CCA was settled out of court, with CCA agreeing to pay its outstanding debt of $300,000 plus interest. Both the city and county have given CCA more than a 50 percent tax abatement since 1995, authorities said. (Houston Chronicle)

Coke County Juvenile Justice Center
Bronte, Texas
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
July 27, 2001
Inmate awards were upheld by an appeals court in a case where young inmates said they were sexually abused by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation employees. But the inmates' attorney was sanctioned for disclosing the terms of the confidential agreement. Background: Several girls said they were sexually and mentally abused by Wackenhut employees at the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center in Bronte, Texas. Wackenhut owns and operates the facility. The claims were settled in mediation for 1.5 million. Wackenhut was to prepare the settlement papers by Oct. 8, 1999, and wire transfer the settlement funds to the inmates' attorney by Oct. 15, 1999. However, Wackenhut failed to do so. The attorney filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement, but failed to do so under seal, which exposed the terms of the settlement agreement and resulted in a newspaper article about the deal. Wackenhut then moved to set aside the settlement and sought sanctions against the inmates' counsel. The court referred the matter to a magistrate judge who found the inmates' counsel had acted in bad faith. However, he recommended upholding the settlement. (Corrections Professional)

May 17, 2001
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court's decision to levy a $15,000 fine and imposed a number of sanctions on attorneys representing nine girls held at the juvenile detention facility in this West Texas city. During mediation in 1999, the former detainees' attorneys reached a $1.5 million settlement agreement with Wackenhut Corrections Corp. The girls had alleged they were sexually, physically, and mentally abused by employees. In an agreement reached in October 1999, Wackenhut did not admit liability and said the payment was for "alleged personal injuries only." Details were confidential and remained under seal until the detainees' attorneys disclosed the terms when they filed a motion to enforce the settlement without sealing it, Wackenhut claimed. Confidentiality was at the heart of the settlement agreement. "The unsealed motion exposed the terms of the settlement agreement and resulted in a newspaper article regarding the agreement," Judge Carl E. Stewart wrote. (AP)

Cold Springs Correctional Facility (Mansfield Boot Camp)
Fort Worth, Texas
Correctional Services Corporation
October 22, 2005 Sarasota Herald Tribune
Correctional Services Corp. has settled a $38.3 million judgment that held the company responsible for the death of an 18-year-old inmate at a Texas boot camp. Terms of the agreement are confidential, but the Sarasota-based prison manager said Friday it will pay $2.7 million toward the settlement. The rest will be covered by CSC's liability insurers, which initially balked at paying the award. The agreement is contingent on the closing of CSC's previously announced sale to The GEO Group Inc. for $62 million. CSC shareholders will vote on the sale Nov. 4. If that deal falls through, so does the settlement. A Texas jury in August 2003 found CSC and a nurse at the now-closed Mansfield boot camp responsible for the death of Bryan D. Alexander. Alexander, serving a six-month sentence for a misdemeanor driving conviction, died in 2001 of a rare penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia. Trial testimony showed he was treated for a cold and flu even though he had coughed up blood for five days before his death. His parents sued CSC and nurse Knyvett Reyes for their loss and anguish. Reyes was convicted of negligent homicide and was sentenced to four years of community supervision. She also surrendered her registered nurse's license. The judgment against CSC and Reyes included $35 million in actual damages, $750,000 in punitive damages and more than $2.4 million in interest. The settlement will resolve all claims and lawsuits against CSC and Reyes. It also will end a dispute between CSC and its liability insurers over who should pay. Boca Raton-based GEO is paying $62 million in cash, or $6 a share, and assuming $124 million in liabilities to acquire CSC. It will then sell the Youth Services International subsidiary to CSC president James Slattery for $3.75 million. That unit manages programs at 17 centers with 1,300 beds. GEO will acquire the adult division that owns or operates 15 facilities with 7,500 beds. GEO manages 41 prisons and jails with 36,000 beds in the United States, Australia, South Africa and Canada. Shares of CSC were selling for $5.91 on the Nasdaq at the close of trading Friday, up 1 cent.

October 22, 2005 NEWS8 Austin
The corporate parent of a now-defunct Mansfield detention facility has reached an out-of-court settlement with the family of a teenager who died while serving time at its boot camp. Correctional Services Corp. announced the settlement yesterday with the family of Bryan Alexander. The 18-year-old died in 2001 while serving a six-month sentence for a drunken-driving arrest. Alexander's family was awarded nearly $40 million in damages by a Tarrant County jury in 2003. But the details of Friday's settlement have not been released. Under the agreement, the boy's family will not file any new suits or pursue appeals against Tarrant County or its criminal-court judges. The boy's parents sued the company and camp nurse after he died from penicillin-resistant pneumonia. Although the teen complained of weakness and was coughing up blood, the camp had waited several days before taking him to a hospital. The suit claimed the camp and nurse failed to provide the teen with adequate and timely medical care.

September 30, 2005 Star-Telegram
U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against Tarrant County and its criminal court judges over the death of a teen-ager who was serving a sentence at the former Mansfield boot camp four years ago. Means left the door open for attorneys representing the family of Bryan Alexander to sue the judges in state court. A lawsuit against the county has been thrown out of state court. Alexander, 18, died in January 2001 while serving a six-month sentence for drunken driving. While at the camp, he complained of feeling weak and coughing up blood. Days later, he was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he was immediately put into intensive care. He died two days later. Tests indicated that he had a rare, penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia. In the federal lawsuit, Alexander's family said the county, and the judges individually, should be held liable because they didn't properly monitor Correctional Services Corp., the company contracted to run the camp. A year ago, Means denied the judges judicial immunity, saying they were acting not as judges but as managers of the facility. But in his ruling Wednesday, Means said public officials do enjoy immunity from lawsuits for damages providing that their conduct does not clearly violate an individual's rights.

February 10, 2005 Star Telegram
Several Tarrant County judges sued over a death at the defunct boot camp are being accused of unethical behavior for considering cases involving the attorneys who are suing them. Defense attorneys Charlie Smith and Bill Lane say that state district judges Sharen Wilson and George Gallagher have decided that they will not automatically transfer those cases to other courts. Since January 2003, the judges have routinely transferred cases handled by Smith and Lane to other courts after the attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against them and the county. In the federal lawsuit, the attorneys say that sloppy oversight by the judges allowed an array of problems to continue at the former Mansfield boot camp, where 18-year-old inmate Bryan Alexander died. Lane and Smith are among several attorneys representing the Alexander family. U.S. District Judge Terry Means ruled in August that the judges can be held liable individually, along with the county, because they were acting as managers of the facility operated by Correctional Services Corp. Smith filed a motion to remove Wilson from hearing a felony theft case on Tuesday. In the filing, he described the judge's decision to deny a transfer as "clear evidence" of hostility toward him. Denying Smith's motion "creates a reasonable doubt as to Judge Sharen Wilson's capacity to act impartially as a judge in connection with this case," court documents state.

August 27, 2004
Tarrant County's criminal court judges are not protected by judicial immunity in a civil rights lawsuit stemming from the death of a teen-ager at the former Mansfield boot camp, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means said the judges can be held liable individually, along with the county, because they were acting not as judges, but as managers of the facility operated by Correctional Services Corp. The judges helped establish the budgets and approved the selection of the private prison operator "in spite of a significant history of operational deficiencies," attorneys for the teen-ager's family have argued. "The court concludes that the defendant judges are not entitled to judicial immunity," Means wrote this week. "It's huge," Mark Haney, the family's attorney, said of Means' ruling. "The judges can be held personally accountable for establishing policies and procedures ... that routinely denied access to medical care to the detainees." In July, Means denied a claim by Northland Insurance Co., CSC's insurance carrier, stating that its policies do not cover the judgment against them. (Star-Telegram)

February 25, 2004
Mid-States Services - the Hurst company in line to take over Tarrant County's jail food contract if the current company fails to do a better job -- has its own food-quality problems, a former Mid-States manager told commissioners Tuesday. Emilio Gonzalez, who until January was director of operations for Mid-States, said the former jail contractor often took outdated food from its commissary operations and served it to inmates after removing packaging that listed the freshness dates. "Vendors need to make a profit, but it doesn't need to be at the county's expense," Gonzalez told county commissioners Tuesday during their meeting. Mid-States Chief Executive John Sammons said the allegations are untrue and blamed them on a competitor that he declined to name. Sammons said some boxes of outdated food were found in Mid-States' stocks when the company provided food service to the jail, but he said those boxes had already been designated for disposal when jailers told the company to remove them. "This is another desperate attempt by those who would like to cause Mid- States problems, at a time when the commissioners are looking at us as a back-up supplier," he said. Last week, commissioners put current contractor Aramark Correctional Services on 30 days' notice to improve the quality of food and service or be removed from the contract. Mid-States, which held the jail food contract until December, was designated as a backup supplier if Aramark failed to meet the terms. Sheriff Dee Anderson said Tuesday that in the week since the commissioners issued the ultimatum, Aramark has made improvements and inmate complaints are declining. Checks of the food service have found improved food temperatures and larger portions, he said. But the company still has a long way to go to be acceptable, he said. "If I had to make a recommendation today, I'd cancel the contract," Anderson said. As to Gonzalez's allegations about Mid-States, Anderson said he would discuss them with commissioners. "If any of it is true, it's disturbing," he said. Gonzalez apologized to commissioners for not coming forward sooner, and said that during contract deliberations last fall he was still employed by Mid-States and feared retaliation. He said he resigned because of concerns about Mid-States' operations. Sammons said that Gonzalez left Mid-States on good terms to take another job and that he was disappointed by the comments. An Aramark spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday but has said Aramark officials believe they are meeting contractual obligations. Commissioners did not discuss Gonzalez's comments at the Tuesday meeting because the issue was not posted as an item for consideration. After the meeting, however, commissioners questioned the timing of the comments. "I'm always grateful for people to come forward, but it's odd that he would come forward at this time," Precinct 1 Commissioner Dionne Bagsby said. Precinct 3 Commissioner Glen Whitley said he gave no credence to Gonzalez's comments and would vote to bring in Mid-States if Aramark did not improve its service. "It just amazes me that this guy shows up to speak against Mid-States a week after we put Aramark on 30-days' notice," he said. Mid-States was the food service operator that served meals to inmates in the Tarrant County Jail until Aramark won a $3.3 million contract over Mid-States, Mid-America and Canteen Correctional Services. Mid-America -- run by former Mid-States executive Jack Madera -- operates the jail commissary, which sells toiletries and snack items to jail inmates. Madera has been indicted along with two other men on charges that they used a forged document to win a jail food-service contract in Kaufman County. The indictments stem from an investigation into whether Madera influenced Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles with thousands of dollars in favors before Bowles picked Madera's company for a $20 million jail commissary contract. The scope has widened to include Madera's dealings with other counties, including Tarrant and Denton. (Lawyer Texas Parole)

February 19, 2004
It would be easy to dismiss inmates' complaints about jail food simply as whining -- not worthy of serious attention because incarceration is not meant to be a pleasant experience. But in the case of the Tarrant County Jail and the meals being served by its newly contracted food service provider, Aramark Correctional Services, the food being distributed to prisoners not only does not meet the taste test -- it may actually pose health risks. Inmates have been complaining about the quality of the food since Aramark began serving the county's four jail sites in December under a $3.3 million annual contract. In response to the complaints and boycott of the meals by some prisoners, county purchasing director Jack Beacham and other county officials went to inspect the food service operation. Beacham said they saw 17 pans of soured pinto beans, discovered foods that were being kept at improper temperatures, and witnessed one employee drop tortillas on the floor and then place them back on the service line. (Lawyer Texas Parole)

December 3, 2003
Visiting State District Judge Roger Towery has ruled that Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp. must pay a $38 million judgment that was awarded earlier this summer to the parents of a young man who died at a Mansfield, Tex., boot camp in 2001. In August, a jury in Fort Worth's 236th District Court awarded the family of Bryan Alexander $35 million in actual damages and $5.1 million in punitive damages following an eight-week trial. Alexander died from a penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia he contracted while participating in a six-month boot camp program as a condition of his misdemeanor probation. Evidence in the case showed that Alexander, who was 18 years old, died after CSC employees ignored his pleas for medical attention for days. In September, Judge Towery set the actual damages at $37.4 million, including interest, and reduced the punitive damages to $750,000. CSC responded by asking the court to reduce or set aside the entire judgment, arguing that there was "no legally or factually sufficient evidence to support the jury's findings." CSC President James Slattery told CSC investors during a recent conference call that the company expected the court to reduce the $38 million judgment. In his ruling issued yesterday, the judge denied all of CSC's motions. "We are pleased that once again the jury's verdict in this case has been upheld," says attorney Jeff Kobs, a partner in Fort Worth's Kobs & Haney, who represented the Alexander family along with Fort Worth attorney Bill Lane. "We are confident that the Courts will continue to deny CSC's repeated attacks on the jury's decision." As a result of this ruling, CSC has until Dec. 16, 2003, to file its notice of appeal, and the company must also post a $25 million bond by Dec. 28, 2003, in order to prevent the Alexander family from attempting to collect the judgment amount. Interest has been accruing at a rate of $5,250 per day since the original judgment was entered in September. In a related federal court action, CSC's insurance carrier, Northland Insurance Co., is seeking a declaration that its policies do not cover the $38 million judgment. CSC is arguing that the Northland policies should cover the judgment amount, and that Northland acted improperly in failing to settle the claims prior to the jury's verdict. For more information on the court's ruling, please contact attorney Jeff Kobs at 817.332.5956, attorney Bill Lane at 817.625.5570, or Bruce Vincent at 214.559.4630 or pager 888.361.8452. (yahoo.com)

October 10, 2003
Day in and day out, workers sling hash to feed the 3,500 Tarrant County Jail inmates three hot meals a day. But as companies line up this month to bid for a multimillion-dollar food-services contract, the focus has shifted from slinging hash to slinging mud. Two of the companies expected to bid on the contract are run by former business partners turned bitter rivals. Sealed bids are due to the Tarrant County purchasing department by Oct. 27. The contract, now held by Hurst-based Mid-States Services, is worth about $4.1 million a year. Among the companies expected to bid is Dallas-based Mid-America Services, run by Jack Madera. He has a long history of winning lucrative contracts and maintaining friendships with elected officials who have a say in whether the company gets public business. Mid-America will compete for the contract against Mid-States, which Madera started in 1970 and sold in February 1999. John Sammons, chief executive of Mid-States and one of the investors who bought the company from Madera, said there is more to the bid than just a second helping of cafeteria business. "Our group is committed to running this company with integrity," Sammons said. "There is a clear-cut delineation between the Mid-States of the past and the Mid-States of today. "The kind of customer base we want is the kind who embraces integrity in government." Business and pleasure Many in Texas law enforcement consider Madera a friend, including Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, whose office oversees jail operations including the kitchen. "The relationship began when I was elected," Anderson said. "Jack was, at that point, a consultant for Mid-States. "Both he and John [Sammons] became friends of mine and supporters." Sammons says Madera's ties to law-enforcement officials prompted him to keep Madera on board as a consultant after Madera sold Mid-States in 1999. Madera and Sammons parted ways in March 2002, when Madera started Mid-America after a three-year non-competition agreement expired with Mid-States. Madera looked to his old friends to help his new business and promptly won contracts in Dallas and Denton counties. There are two types of contracts: food-services contracts, under which the county pays companies to provide meals to inmates, and commissary contracts, under which companies sell snacks and other items to inmates and return a portion of the proceeds to the county. Sheriffs control jail commissaries, including selection of the companies that handle the services. Bids are required, and county proceeds must be used to benefit inmates. A provision applying only to Tarrant County requires commissioners court approval of commissary contracts. Some of Madera's contracts have raised eyebrows. In Dallas, Madera's relationship with Sheriff Jim Bowles has been criticized since Bowles awarded the commissary contract to Mid-America in June 2002. One Dallas County official labeled the contract a "bad business decision," and questions have been raised about whether Madera exerted undue influence through his friendships. But no specific allegations of wrongdoing have been voiced publicly. Madera's bid in Dallas County gave the sheriff's department about $600,000 a year, less than what was offered by two other competitors, including Mid-States. In Tarrant County, Anderson awarded Madera's Mid-America the contract for commissary services in April. The company sells aspirin, snacks, soap and other items from carts, dubbed "banana wagons," that workers wheel through the jail. Under the commissary contract, Madera will pay the sheriff's office at least $750,000 a year. As was the case in Denton and Dallas counties, Madera won the Tarrant County business by beating out Mid-States, which held the existing contracts. 'No hidden agenda' Anderson says he is confident that the bidding will be above board, as he says it was when he awarded Mid-America the commissary contract. Tarrant County commissioners are expected to vote on the food-services contract by Dec. 31. Six companies are expected to submit bids, which will be analyzed by an evaluation committee. Anderson said the current commissary contract shows that local officials are committed to hammering out the best deal possible. "I believe we have the most lucrative contract for any county in the state," Anderson said. "It is second to none." Anderson said he has lunched regularly and dined occasionally with Madera and has dined with Sammons, played golf at his country club and seen a Dallas Stars game from a luxury box, all at Sammons' expense. "I don't do anything in secret," Anderson said. "There is no hidden agenda. "Because we are clients, we have a relationship with those people," he said. "Certainly, nothing improper has taken place." Sammons also said there is nothing improper about his relationship with Anderson. "Building relationships is part of doing business in the public and the private sector," Sammons said. "It is hard to develop trust." Madera would not comment to the Star-Telegram except to say he intends to bid on the jail food-services contract and that he denies any inappropriate relationships with Tarrant County officials. "There is nothing inappropriate going on in Dallas, either," Madera said. Commissioner J.D. Johnson, who represents Precinct 4, in the northwest part of the county, said his 15- to 20-year friendship with Madera has not influenced county business. "I've always tried to vote for what I thought was the best deal, and it's what I'll do this time," Johnson said. Sammons, however, said he'll watch the bidding closely to ensure that he's treated fairly. He won't be alone. Patrick Turner, regional sales director for Aramark Corp., which also expects to bid on the contract, said: "On a level playing field, we have always been able to compete. But that's always been the question, whether it has always been a level playing field." (Star-Telegram)

September 18, 2003
Visiting State District Judge Roger Towery has signed a $38.3 million judgment against Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp. in a lawsuit over the death of an 18-year-old man who died at a Mansfield boot camp in 2001. The judgment, entered yesterday in Tarrant County's 236th District Court, includes $37.4 million in actual damages plus interest and $750,000 in punitive damages. In August, a Fort Worth jury awarded $35 million in actual damages and $5.1 million in punitive damages to the family of Bryan Alexander. The punitive damages were reduced in the judgment under Texas punitive damage caps. According to the lawsuit, Alexander died on Jan. 9, 2001, from a penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia while participating in a six-month boot camp program as a condition of his misdemeanor probation. Alexander chose the boot camp over jail time. He died after his pleas for medical attention were ignored for days. "This judgment sends a clear signal that the original verdict in this case was sound," says Jeff Kobs, a partner in Fort Worth's Kobs & Haney, who represented the Alexander family along with Fort Worth attorney Bill Lane. During trial, Kobs and Lane argued that Alexander's medical condition should have triggered a response from the boot camp nurse or other employees of CSC. Evidence in the case showed that Alexander experienced difficulty breathing and began coughing up blood at least five days before his death. CSC eventually transferred Alexander to a local hospital, but he died less than 36 hours after being admitted. "Bryan's was a senseless death that should never have happened," Lane says. "The Alexander family hopes this judgment will send a clear message to CSC and other for-profit correctional companies, and that no other families are forced to suffer a similar ordeal." Under Texas law, CSC has 30 days to appeal the judgment, ask for a new trial, or pay the $38.3 million judgment. If CSC appeals the judgment, state law would delay the payment of the judgment if CSC posts a $25 million bond. For more information on the judgment in this case, please contact attorney Jeff Kobs at 817.332.5956, attorney Bill Lane at 817.625.5570, or Bruce Vincent at 214.559.4630 or pager 888.361.8452. (Yahoo Finance)

September 6, 2003
A state judge in Montague County is set to hear arguments today to finalize $40.1 million in damages that a jury awarded last month to the parents of an Arlington man who died while at the former Mansfield boot camp. Correctional Services Corp. and its nurse Knyvett Reyes were found responsible for the Jan. 9, 2001, death of Bryan Alexander. The 18-year-old probationer died of a rare lung infection after his complaints of feeling weak and coughing up blood went ignored for days. A Tarrant County jury decided that the Florida-based company, which contracted to run the camp, and its nurse should pay $35 million for Alexander's death, his suffering and his parents' loss. The jury then added $5.1 million in punitive damages, with CSC to pay most of the judgment. Attorneys for CSC and Reyes are expected to appeal the verdict. CSC Chief Executive James Slattery said his attorneys intend to "request that the court set aside the jury's verdict." "Mr. Alexander died from an extremely rare form of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia, which is not normally contracted outside of a hospital setting," he said in a statement last week. "Even the plaintiffs' experts testified that this condition would have been extremely difficult to diagnose." Plaintiffs' attorneys say CSC's position shows an "ongoing unwillingness to take responsibility" for Alexander's death. "The defendants said they plan to fight us tooth and nail," said Mark Haney, one of seven attorneys representing Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert. "They want to try and disregard the verdict that addressed their bad behavior," he said. "It is a slap in the face to the Alexander family and the jury's verdict." CSC's Fort Worth attorney, Vic Anderson, declined to comment on the case. Reyes' attorney, Michael Wallach, could not be reached to comment. CSC has $35 million in insurance to cover the jury award in Alexander's death. But the company's insurer has sued, saying it is not obligated to pay because Reyes was convicted last year of negligent homicide. That conviction is being appealed. Under Texas law, punitive damages in the Alexander case are limited to $750,000 for CSC and $100,000 for Reyes. The jury had set punitive damages at $5 million to be paid by CSC and $100,000 from Reyes. (Star-Telegram)
September 2, 2003
Jail operator Correctional Services Corp. on Friday said a Texas jury awarded plaintiffs $5.1 million in punitive damages in a wrongful death suit against the company and a former employee, but recovery is limited to $850,000 under Texas law. The company said its primary liability insurance carrier has recently taken the not uncommon step of disclaiming coverage, but it believes the carrier has no legitimate basis for the decision and has retained counsel to enforce its rights under the policies. (Yahoo Finance)

August 29, 2003
With no prior criminal record, the 18-year-old Arlington man hoped that the former Mansfield boot camp would set him straight after a drunken-driving arrest. He chose the regimented, low-security corrections facility over jail time. But a rare, penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia killed Bryan Alexander on Jan. 9, 2001, while he served his six-month sentence. His pleas for medical attention had been ignored for days. "He wanted to get some discipline at the camp and a chance to get his GED. It turned out to be a death sentence for a DWI," said Charlie Smith, who represented the teen-ager in the criminal matter and his family in a civil lawsuit. On Thursday, a Tarrant County jury added $5.1 million in punitive damages to its award Wednesday of $35 million in actual damages for Alexander's death, his suffering and his parents' mental anguish and loss of their son. Jurors blamed the camp's nurse, Knyvett Reyes, and Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., which contracted to run the 370-bed facility. CSC must pay $26 million of the judgment, Reyes $14.1 million. Reyes' attorney, Michael Wallach, and CSC's attorney, Vic Anderson, declined to comment. The lawsuit brought by Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert, said Reyes and CSC failed to provide Alexander with adequate and timely medical care. He had complained of feeling weak and coughing up blood days before he was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Alexander was immediately placed in intensive care but died two days later. The boot camp and residential drug-treatment programs at the Mansfield facility were closed six months after Alexander's death. CSC had been paid $2.9 million a year by the state to run the facility. On Thursday, attorneys for the Alexander family asked the jury of five women and seven men to further punish CSC and Reyes to send a message to other correction facilities and nurses. "You did listen to Bryan's pleas for help. Unfortunately for Bryan, you are 2 1/2 years too late," Bill Lane, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, told the jury in closing arguments Thursday in the punitive-damage stage of the trial. "But you are not too late to send a message to this private corporation that we will not accept the lowest bidder or that the bottom line is worth more than a human life." Attorneys for the defendants argued that their clients were unaware of the seriousness of Alexander's illness. Reyes testified that she treated Alexander for a cold, flu and strep throat based on her evaluation of his symptoms. Fort Worth accountant L. Andrew McCartney said CSC is worth more than $50.8 million, based on recent financial reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. CSC has about $25 million in insurance coverage that could be used to cover the judgment, said Anderson, CSC's attorney. "If the company is closed down, there are going to be a lot of people out of jobs," he said. Reyes' attorney, Wallach, said: "I think we all know Knyvett Reyes is not a corporation. I would ask that you punish her no further." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

August 28, 2003
A former nurse and a Florida-based private corrections company that operated the defunct Mansfield boot camp were responsible for the death of an 18-year-old inmate, a Tarrant County jury decided Wednesday. The jury of five women and seven men ordered the nurse and company to pay $35 million for the death of Bryan Alexander, his suffering, and his parents' mental anguish and loss of companionship. Alexander died of a rare penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, two days after being transported from the camp for probationers. Arlington lawyer Charlie Smith, who represented Alexander in his criminal matter and the Alexander family in the wrongful-death lawsuit, said he was not surprised by the jury's verdict. "This case was more like a homicide case than a wrongful-death lawsuit because of the way this young man died," said Smith, one of seven attorneys representing the Alexander family. "Bryan's family was hopeful that this jury would speak loud about the conduct of these defendants so it will not happen to another child in the same circumstances as Bryan Alexander." The lawsuit asserted that Correctional Services Corp., and its nurse at the camp, Knyvett Reyes of Arlington, did not provide Alexander with adequate and timely medical care. Alexander had complained of feeling weak and was coughing up blood days before he was taken to JPS Hospital. But Reyes testified during the seven-week trial that, based on her evaluation of his symptoms, she treated Alexander for a cold, flu and strep throat. Witnesses testified that Reyes thought the inmate was faking his illness. Reyes' attorney, Michael Wallach, declined to comment after the jury's verdict. Correctional Services Corp.'s attorney, Vic Anderson, also declined to comment. Attorneys for Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert, said Reyes' skepticism cost Alexander his life. He was serving a sentence at the facility for a drunken-driving conviction and had no prior criminal record, according to testimony. Correctional Services Corp., which was paid about $2.9 million a year to run the camp, must pay 60 percent of the $35 million judgment, while Reyes was ordered to pay 40 percent. The jury also decided that Reyes and Correctional Services Corp. acted with malice in ignoring Alexander's pleas for help, which means the defendants must pay punitive damages. Closing arguments are scheduled for today to determine punitive damages. Fort Worth accountant L. Andrew McCartney said Correctional Services Corp. is worth more than $50.8 million, based on recent financial reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "They are currently making a profit," he testified. Reyes' financial condition was not brought up. Plaintiffs' attorneys are seeking $40 million in punitive damages for the Alexander family. Correctional Services Corp. has about $25 million in insurance coverage that could be used to cover the lawsuit judgment, said Anderson, the company's attorney. "In this case, the plaintiffs are asking the jury to punish the company. If the jury punishes the company, they are probably going to be punishing the stockholders of this company," Anderson said. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

August 28, 2003
A former nurse and a Florida-based private corrections company that operated a defunct Mansfield boot camp were responsible for the death of an 18-year-old inmate, a Tarrant County jury decided Wednesday. The jury of five women and seven men ordered the nurse and company to pay $35 million for the death of Bryan Alexander, his suffering, and his parents' mental anguish and future loss of companionship. Alexander died of a rare penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, two days after being transported from the camp for probationers. Arlington lawyer Charlie Smith, who represented Alexander in his criminal case and the Alexander family in the wrongful-death lawsuit, said he was not surprised by the jury's verdict. "This case was more like a homicide case than a wrongful-death lawsuit because of the way this young man died," said Smith, one of seven attorneys representing the Alexander family. "Bryan's family was hopeful that this jury would speak loud about the conduct of these defendants so it will not happen to another child in the same circumstances as Bryan Alexander." The lawsuit asserted that Correctional Services Corp. and its nurse at the camp, Knyvett Reyes, failed to provide Alexander with adequate and timely medical care. Alexander had complained of weakness and was coughing up blood days before he was taken to JPS Hospital. But Reyes testified during the seven-week trial that, based on her evaluation of his symptoms, she treated Alexander for a cold, flu and strep throat. Witnesses testified that Reyes thought the inmate was faking his illness. Attorneys for Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert, said Reyes' skepticism cost Alexander his life. He was serving a sentence at the facility for a drunken-driving conviction and had no prior criminal record, according to testimony. Correctional Services Corp., which was paid about $2.9 million a year to run the camp, must pay 60 percent of the $35 million judgment; Reyes was ordered to pay 40 percent. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

August 27, 2003
Correctional Services Corporation today announced that a Tarrant County, Texas jury has returned a $35 million verdict against the Company and its former employee in the wrongful death suit by the parents and estate of Bryan Alexander. Mr. Alexander died of a rare penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia while incarcerated at the Tarrant County Community Correctional Facility, which was operated by the Company at the time. The jury will now be asked to consider whether punitive damages should also be awarded against the Company and/or its former employee. (Yahoo Finance)

August 27, 2003
A Tarrant County jury is expected to continue deliberations today in the wrongful-death lawsuit in the case of an Arlington teen-ager who died while serving a sentence at the former Mansfield boot camp. Bryan Alexander, 18, died of pneumonia at John Peter Smith Hospital on Jan. 9, 2001 -- days after he complained of feeling weak and coughing up blood. He had a rare penicillin-resistant infection, hospital tests later revealed. Attorneys for his parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert, said Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., the private company that operated the boot camp, and its nurse, Knyvett Reyes, ignored Bryan Alexander's pleas for medical attention and could have saved his life. The attorneys are asking for at least $75 million for Alexander's death, his suffering and his parents' mental anguish. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

August 26, 2003
A Tarrant County jury began deliberations Monday in the wrongful-death lawsuit in the case of an Arlington man who died while serving a drunken-driving sentence at the former Mansfield boot camp. Bryan Alexander, 18, died of pneumonia at John Peter Smith Hospital on Jan. 9, 2001 -- days after he complained of feeling weak and coughing up blood. He had a rare penicillin-resistant infection, hospital tests later revealed. Attorneys for his parents -- Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert -- said the Florida-based private company that operated the boot camp and its nurse, Knyvett Reyes, ignored his pleas for medical attention and could have saved his life. "They don't believe they did anything wrong," said Jeff Kobs, one of seven attorneys representing the Alexander family. "No one has come to this courtroom to say they were sorry or regret what they did. I want you to tell these people they are responsible and what happened was wrong." Alexander's parents are suing Reyes and Correctional Services Corp., which contracted to run the 370-bed facility for probationers and drug treatment. Plaintiffs' attorneys suggested an award of $75 million for Alexander's death, his suffering and his parents' mental anguish. A jury of five women and seven men listened to nearly eight hours of closing arguments Monday in the trial that began July 7. They are expected to resume deliberations this morning. The defendants' attorneys argued that Alexander was provided with adequate medical care and that he was the only one to blame for his death because he failed to provide the camp's nurse with enough information about his illness. "It wasn't going to make any difference on the ultimate outcome if he had been seen by a doctor on Jan. 5," Reyes' attorney, Michael Wallach, said. "Alexander never proved he was coughing up blood until Jan. 7. He had every opportunity to bring nurse Reyes the proof." Attorney Vic Anderson, who represents CSC, said the plaintiffs' witnesses were not credible because they were mostly former inmates at the boot camp, and he frequently called them "criminals." Anderson also said that Alexander showed signs of having a cold or the flu but that he was not seriously ill until he was transported to JPS. "We believe nurse Reyes did not think there was an extreme risk involved with Alexander," Anderson said. "She was treating him for strep throat." Reyes was convicted of negligent homicide last year in Alexander's death and sentenced to four years' probation. But attorneys for the Alexander family could not present her conviction to jurors because the case is under appeal. The county's 19 criminal court judges closed the boot camp in July 2001 amid an array of problems at the facility. Attorneys for the Alexander family are also suing the judges who oversaw the facility in 2000 and 2001 and the probation department. Reyes surrendered her nursing license in 2001 during a state nursing board investigation. CSC still has two contracts with Texas. The publicly traded company is paid about $7 million to run a halfway house in Fort Worth and an intermediate-sanction facility in Houston, state prison spokesman Larry Todd said. Alexander's attorneys said a judgment in the lawsuit is important to prevent similar incidents at other facilities operated by CSC. "We're talking about a for-profit corrections company that houses our youths. They do it for the money. And it's the bottom line they are concerned about, not about responsibility," said Bill Lane, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys. "It is wrong what happened to Bryan Alexander, and they should pay for what happened." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

July 21, 2003
A Texas Rangers' investigation into the death of an inmate at the former Mansfield boot camp determined that the 18-year-old probationer had to take cold and flu pills for days before he was allowed to visit a nurse. Attorneys blamed a nurse's skepticism and poor staffing by a Florida-based private company that ran a Mansfield boot camp for the death of an inmate who had been serving a drunken-driving sentence at the facility. The attorneys, who represent the parents of Bryan Alexander, made the accusations Thursday during opening statements of a wrongful death trial. Alexander, 18, of Arlington died Jan. 9, 2001, two days after being transferred to a Fort Worth hospital. He had a form of pneumonia that was resistant to penicillin. Plaintiffs' attorneys contend the camp's nurse and Correctional Services Corp., which contracted to run the camp for the county's judges and probation department, failed to provide Alexander with timely and adequate medical care. "They watched him die," Charlie Smith said in opening statements. He is one of seven attorneys representing Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert. Visiting State District Judge Roger Towery is presiding over the trial, and a five-woman, seven-man jury will decide the case. The plaintiffs' attorneys contend Bryan Alexander tried to get medical attention as early as Dec. 31 but was not seen until Jan. 5. Alexander had been given over-the-counter medication to treat a cold or flu. Alexander's parents are suing CSC and the camp's former nurse, Knyvett Reyes, who was hired by the company. Reyes was convicted of negligent homicide last year in Alexander's death. Attorneys on both sides are awaiting clarification from the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth on whether that conviction is final or under appeal. Vic Anderson, an attorney for CSC, said Reyes acted appropriately in treating what she believed was the flu or strep throat and could not have known the severity of Alexander's illness. "We do not deny the fact that Mr. Alexander was ill and began feeling bad sometime in late December or early January," Anderson said in opening statements. "But a lot of people at the facility were feeling bad," he said. "There was an outbreak of flu. It was not an unusual thing for someone at the camp to say they are sick to get out of work or to get a trip to the hospital." Alexander died two days after being taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth on Jan. 7, 2001. "Just because there is a death doesn't necessarily mean there is someone at fault," Anderson said. Texas Rangers Sgt. Alvin Alexis testified that the boot camp had a policy of requiring probationers at the 370-bed Mansfield facility to take over-the-counter drugs for three days before they could request a visit to the camp's nurse. Alexis said Alexander complained of coughing up blood but had to take cold and flu pills for three days and then tried for another three days to visit the camp's nurse. Alexis based his conclusions on CSC records and interviews with CSC employees and boot camp inmates. Reyes' attorney, Michael Wallach, told jurors they should question the reliability of inmates' statements, even Alexander's. "You will have to determine whether Bryan Alexander was a reliable historian of his own health problems," he said. The civil lawsuit, which initially sought more than $700 million in damages, is expected to last more than a month, court officials said. Attorneys for Alexander's parents are not disclosing how much in damages they'll seek at the conclusion of the trial. (Fort Worth Star Telegram)

July 14, 2003
Jury selection begins today in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of an 18-year-old Arlington man who died after becoming ill at a former Mansfield facility for probationers. While serving a sentence for drunken driving, Bryan Alexander developed a rare lung infection and died Jan. 9, 2001, two days after being transferred to a Fort Worth hospital. Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert, are suing Correctional Services Corp., the Florida-based private contractor that operated the camp, and its former nurse, Knyvett Reyes, who was convicted in Alexander's death last year. The lawsuit, which initially sought $755 million, contends that the camp and its employees ignored warning signs of Alexander's failing health. Attorneys for Correctional Services and Reyes did not return phone calls Friday. The lawsuit may help prevent other inmates' medical concerns from being ignored, attorneys for Alexander's parents say. Last year, Reyes, the camp's former nurse, was sentenced to two years in jail, but a probationary sentence was imposed in lieu of jail time. She was also ordered to pay $10,939.74 in restitution. The attorneys for the state and for Reyes negotiated the sentence. Reyes' attorney, Jack Strickland, is trying to appeal the conviction. But the special prosecutor in the case is fighting the request, meaning that Reyes' conviction can be used as evidence in the civil case, attorneys say. Plaintiff attorneys said they will focus on Reyes' actions in Alexander's death and how the private contractor limited inmates' access to medical attention. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Alexander died of pneumonia caused by an antibiotic-resistant infection. Doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth could not detect and treat the infection in time to save his life. Six months after Alexander's death, the county's 19 criminal-court judges voted to close the boot camp and residential drug-treatment programs at the 370-bed facility. The judges also voted to end the county's $2.9 million annual contract with Correctional Services Corp. (Star-Telegram)

January 22, 2003
A former Mansfield boot camp nurse convicted of negligent homicide in the 2001 death of an inmate is appealing and asking for a new trial. Knyvett Reyes, 36, was sentenced in August to four years of community supervision for the death of boot camp probationer Bryan Alexander, 18, of Arlington. Reyes struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid serving two years in state jail. The judge who presided over the non-jury trial in June found that Reyes failed to provide timely and adequate medical care to the teen-ager, who died of a rare lung infection that was resistant to antibiotics. Alexander's parents are suing Reyes, the boot camp's doctor and a Florida-based private contractor that ran the facility. The suit contends that Alexander's pleas for medical help were ignored and his death could have been prevented. The civil case is scheduled to begin July 7 in Judge Tom Lowe's 236th District Court. (Star_Telegram)

December 31, 2002
Attorneys for parents of an 18-year old who died after falling ill at a Mansfield boot camp filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Tarrant County and its 19 judges who managed the correctional center. The lawsuit contends that the judges who supervised the Tarrant County Community Correctional Facility failed to ensure that its staff provided proper medical care for Bryan Alexander, 18, of Arlington. The boot camp's former nurse, Knyvett Reyes, was sentenced in August to four years of community supervision. She was convicted of negligent homicide in Alexander's death for failing to provide the teen-ager with timely medical care. A $755 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by Alexander's family is pending. (Star-Telegram)

August 31, 2002
FORT WORTH - Former Mansfield boot camp nurse Knyvett Reyes was sentenced Friday to four years community supervision for negligent homicide and ordered to pay restitution to Bryan Alexander's family. Alexander, an 18-year-old probationer at the boot camp, died in 2001 of a lung infection that led to pneumonia after leaving her care. During her trial, the prosecution accused Reyes of failing to provide adequate and timely attention. Reyes was sentenced to two years in jail, but the probationary sentence was imposed in lieu of jail time. Reyes was also ordered to pay $10,939.74 in restitution. The attorneys for the state and Reyes negotiated the sentence. Alexander, who was in the boot camp because of a drunken-driving conviction, died after being taken from the camp to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Reyes is also barred from performing any nursing duties involving direct patient care during her probation. She is working as a hospital clerk. Barring an appeal, criminal proceedings are now concluded. But family members have filed a $755 million wrongful death civil lawsuit. The family two weeks ago moved to add Tarrant County's 19 criminal judge to the suit. (Star-telegram)

June 29, 2002
A nurse accused in the death of a probationer at the former Mansfield boot camp was convicted Friday of negligent homicide. Knyvett Reyes, 36, of Arlington, faces up to two years in state jail in the death of 18-year-old Bryan Alexander, a probationer at the camp. "It's kind of difficult to feel sorry for nurse Reyes because she didn't show any empathy for Bryan," the teen's father, Rickey Alexander, said outside the courtroom. "The important thing for us was we didn't want her in a position where she could do the same thing to some other person." "Bryan Alexander died as a result of being ignored," special prosecutor Bill Turner said during closing arguments. A pending $755 million wrongful death lawsuit in Alexander's death kept the courtroom packed throughout Reyes' two-week trial. Alexander's parents are suing Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., the private company that ran the 370-bed Mansfield facility for probationers. (The Star-Telegram)

June 28, 2002
A former boot camp nurse thought an inmate who died after complaining of coughing up blood had a cold or strep throat, she testified Thursday. Knyvett Reyes, 36, of Arlington, is being tried on charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide in the death of Bryan Alexander, a probationer at the Mansfield camp. Prosecutors contend Reyes failed to provide Alexander with adequate and timely medical attention. Witnesses for the prosecution have said Reyes was skeptical of inmates' illnesses, and that she did not provide physicians with enough information to detect Alexander's infection. During Reyes' cross-examination, special prosecutor Bill Turner accused her of altering Alexander's medical records, ignoring his complaints and failing to take some vital signs that could have helped doctors save the teen-ager's life. Turner accused Reyes of creating records after Alexander died to help in her defense. Original boot camp records and inmate's files have not been located, he said. (The Star-Telegram)

June 25, 2002
A Colorado prison warden testified Monday that a Mansfield boot camp nurse could not have known an inmate under her care had a fatal illness based on his written request for medical treatment. The nurse, Knyvett Jane Reyes, is on trial on negligent homicide and manslaughter charges in the death of 18-year-old Bryan Alexander, a probationer at the camp who medical examiners determined died of a form of pneumonia. Prosecutors have argued that Reyes did not thoroughly examine Alexander. They contended she should have taken several vital signs, such as his blood pressure and heart rate, which would have revealed a rare infection that eventually caused his death Jan. 9. An official with the state nurse licensing agency testified last week that Reyes should have sent Alexander to a doctor Jan. 5. Alexander was taken to the hospital Jan. 7 and died two days later. Special prosecutor Lindsey Roberts said Alexander's weight loss - about 25 pounds during his two months at the camp - and claims that he was coughing up blood should have been red flags. Roberts said Alexander was 6 feet tall and weighed 150 pounds when he died. (The Star-Telegram)

September 27, 2001
The boy knew rage. A troublemaking, dope-smoking misfit, "Brad" was in and out of trouble with the law, and more in than out. He ran away from home, stayed out all night, stole. Help came in the form of confinement to a juvenile "boot camp" run by Correctional Services Corp., a private company that manages two Dallas County juvenile facilities. Sent to CSC's program for emotionally disturbed youths in Southern Dallas, Brad's condition quickly deteriorated. Privately, the boy's group counselor told his grandmother, "I am not qualified. I do not have the education. He needs more than I can give him." Those words, from one of CSC's own employees, might be used to sum up the company's long and troubled history of running juvenile and other jail facilities here and nationwide with what one critic calls a "Costco" approach to juvenile treatment. It is a track record that includes chilling episodes of sexual abuse, gross mismanagement and, in one Tarrant County case, the death of an 18-year-old. In the past decade, in New York, Florida and Texas, local authorities and the federal government have canceled contracts with CSC, following a host of complaints from former CSC inmates and their families. One top Texas government official in the juvenile justice system, who declined to be named, says CSC has a two-pronged pitch when it sells its services. First, it promises much lower costs. The Texas Youth Commission, for instance, budgets $129 per day per juvenile at its facilities, compared with the $80 or $90 a day CSC charges. In other instances, CSC pledges to help counties make money. At CSC boot camps in North Texas, drill instructors are hired at $7.46 an hour. Their training consists of observing other instructors for a week, before being put to work. "There were a whole lot of people hired to do jobs they didn't know how to do," says one educator who taught at the facility, speaking on the condition that she not be identified. She worked for another company hired by the county to provide schooling at the CSC facility but quit after six months because she believed she and her staff, who went for weeks without offices or phones, were ill-equipped to handle their responsibilities. One fresh-out-of-college education major, she recalls, was handed the responsibility of developing a special education program. After the July 1999 attack on his grandmother, Brad was taken to the Dallas County juvenile detention center. A month later, state District Judge Hal Gaither committed him to the CSC boot camp. Initially, his grandmother welcomed the development. She believed the help she had sought had finally arrived. But even behind bars he continued to misbehave and spent countless hours, sometimes shackled and handcuffed, seated on a concrete bench in a small confinement room that reeked of urine. Brad, like many of his peers, did not meet with an individual counselor, family counselor or psychiatrist for months. When he did see a doctor, the juvenile simply told the psychiatrist to halt his prescribed drugs, and the physician agreed, according to records. The lack of promised counseling wasn't unique to Brad's case. Attorney Craig Sargent represented a mentally retarded client sent to CSC's unit for emotionally disturbed kids. His client, he says, was also denied the family counseling he had been promised. At a hearing to determine whether the boy should be sent to a Texas Youth Commission facility, Sargent grilled a CSC drill instructor and program director Brown. The instructor testified that despite working with the youth every day, she had not realized he was mentally handicapped. "That would be important to know when you're addressing someone as far as their mental capacity and their ability to follow your directive, if they have any defect. Would you agree with me?" Sargent asked. "Yes, sir," the employee replied. For four months, CSC had been receiving $82 a day to treat the boy, Sargent notes. "It pissed me off as a taxpayer," he recalls. In the late '90s, the company ran into similar problems in Florida. Dade County officials terminated contracts when they discovered CSC had deliberately kept delinquents beyond their release dates to pocket extra money. The local school district paid the company to teach kids in its custody; CSC was accused of collecting money for days when it provided no schooling. "They are a completely greedy company. They have a Costco approach to meaningful intervention," says Marie Osborne, an assistant public defender in Dade County who went to court to get 11 of her indigent clients removed from a CSC facility. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice conducted a study of the facility and found a lack of training, inadequate background checks on employees and inadequate food service. Employees had even helped stage fights between 13- and 14-year-olds while their peers watched and referred to these bloody scrabbles as "The Main Event" in memos, according to CSC employees' testimonies. The lawsuits against CSC are mounting to the point analysts say that they are threatening the corporate bottom line. Once a Wall Street darling, CSC has fallen on hard times. (Dallas Observer)

July 13, 2001
Five former Mansfield boot camp inmates filed a civil lawsuit Thursday, alleging that they were sexually harassed or given inadequate medical care while housed there. Two female plaintiffs allege that a male guard fondled them and repeatedly made sexually suggestive comments. Three former male inmates allege that they suffered long-term physical problems after failing to receive prompt and adequate medical attention. Arlington attorney Howard Rosenstein, who filed the suit Thursday, represented three female former boot camp inmates who won a $2.8 million award in a sexual harassment suit against Correctional Services Corp. in March. "Again, we find ourselves in the situation where, due to the absence of enforcement of a security policy at CSC, instructors and guards were allowed to isolate, torment and sexually abuse these women," Mr. Rosenstein said. The suit is the latest in a series of legal battles facing the company, which operates more than a dozen facilities in Texas and runs facilities in 18 states. A $ 755 million lawsuit alleging inadequate medical care was filed by the parents of Bryan Alexander, who died Jan. 9 from pneumonia while an inmate at the boot camp. The company also faces a civil lawsuit by a former operations manager who alleges that he was improperly fired for reporting staffing shortages. The company has repeatedly denied the allegations in those cases. (The Dallas Morning News)

June 21, 2001
A panel of judges voted unanimously Wednesday to close the Mansfield boot camp and residential drug treatment facility July 6 and reopen it as a day treatment program for probationers. The Board of Criminal Judges, with 11 of its 19 members in attendance, decided to move up the closure date from Aug. 31. A contract with Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. to operate the 370-bed facility ends Aug. 31, but the company has agreed to end its obligations sooner. The judges voted this year not to renew the contract with Correctional Services Corp. The company came under scrutiny after some female inmates were sexually assaulted by employees and because of questions about the quality of health care for inmates. Probationer Bryan Alexander, 18, of Arlington died of pneumonia Jan. 9, two days after being transported to a Fort Worth hospital. Alexander's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nurse who treated him, the company and others. (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

May 19, 2001
Two Tarrant County judges pulled about a dozen probationers from drug-rehabilitation programs at the Mansfield boot camp facility Thursday after reports that a guard had consensual sex with an inmate. Boot camp administrator Randy Tate declined to discuss details of the allegations, other than saying that the reports are being investigated and that the guard has been suspended. State District Judges Jamie Cummings and Sharen Wilson removed probationers from the substance-abuse treatment program at the facility Thursday after officials notified the county's probation department of the reports. (Arlington Morning News)

May 17, 2001
A privately operated prison that was the subject of a Texas Rangers investigation over prisoners' treatment will now be shuttered. The 370-bed Tarrant Community Corrections Facility will close in less than three months due to a $2.8 million budget shortfall. Earlier this year, the judges voted to not renew a contract with Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. to operate the facility. The company, which has run the center since 1992, has been criticized because of escapes, sexual assaults by employees and questions about the health care inmates have received. Earlier this month, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted a nurse who provided medical treatment for a boot camp probationer until two days before he died of pneumonia. (AP)

May 4, 2001
Rick Alexander, hat clutched in hand, sat for nearly 50 minutes as a lawyer defended the woman the Arlington resident is convinced helped kill his 18-year-old son. Mr. Alexander listened intently as Fort Worth attorney Jack V. Strickland lambasted the Tarrant County grand jury's indictment on charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide against Knyvett Jane Reyes, a nurse at the Mansfield boot camp where Bryan Alexander was an inmate. " I don't think that Nurse Reyes is a victim," Mr. Alexander said in a hallway at the Tarrant County Justice Center. "Bryan told me he filled out three requests, not to see the doctor, but to go to the hospital. But he said, ' She's real mean and she doesn't like me. ' He told me that himself." Bryan Alexander died Jan. 9 at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He was sentenced to the camp for assault and drunken driving. The teen filed a written request for medical attention Jan. 4. Camp officials contend that he was seen by Ms. Reyes the next day and given antibiotics, but the teen was required to continue a workout regimen through Jan. 6. James Slattery, chief executive officer of Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp., was out of town Thursday and was unavailable for comment on the pending court case. (Arlington Morning Star)

May 4, 2001
A 35-year-old nurse at the Mansfield boot camp was indicted Thursday on charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide in connection with the death of an 18-year-old inmate. The indictment alleges that Knyvett Jane Reyes recklessly and negligently caused the death of Bryan Alexander of Arlington by failing to adequately assess his condition, report his illness and provide adequate care at the Tarrant County Community Correctional Facility. The two-page indictment states that Ms. Reyes failed to adequately assess and evaluate Mr. Alexander's medical status, failed to accurately report his status to the boot camp's attending physician, and failed to stabilize Mr. Alexander's medical condition and prevent complications. The indictment also says Ms. Reyes did not order bed rest, and did not prohibit strenuous physical exertion or transfer Mr. Alexander to the hospital in a timely manner. Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. has operated the Mansfield facility since 1992. The boot camp is part of the Tarrant County Community Correctional Facility. (Arlington Morning News)

May 4, 2001
The parents of a Mansfield boot camp inmate, who died of pneumonia days after complaining of being ill, filed a $755 million wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the company that runs the camp and others. Bryan Alexander, 18, of Arlington, died Jan. 9, two days after being transferred from the camp to Fort Worth's John Peter Smith Hospital. The lawsuit contends the camp and its employees ignored signs of Alexander's "falling health" and were grossly negligent in providing medical treatment. Defendants in the lawsuit are Correctional Services Corp., a private, Florida-based company that runs the camp; CSC attorney Tony Schaffer; the Tarrant County Community and Corrections Department; CSC nurse Knyvett Reyes; and Dr. Samuel Lee, who was employed by the company. Reyes was indicated Thursday on a charge of manslaughter and negligent homicide in Alexander's death. An Austin administration law judge, who suspended Reyes' nursing license in March, wrote that Alexander "would most likely have been" cured if his illness was diagnosed earlier and treated with other antibiotics. In February, three former inmates were awarded $2.8 million by a Tarrant County judge for sexual harassment the women suffered at the facility. (Star-Telegram)

April 20, 2001
Members of Tarrant County's judiciary have voted to stop sending probationers to the Mansfield boot camp out of concerns that there won't be enough money to keep the camp open long enough for the next platoon to graduate. Under the contract with Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., the county pays $21.94 a day per bed, regardless of whether the beds are occupied. This arrangement will continue until the contract expires Sept. 1. The judges voted in February to manage the facility after the private contractor's contract expires in September. Allegations of sexual harassment by guards and the death of a probationer in January have plagued the boot camp. (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

April 6, 2001
A Tarrant County grand jury will decide whether to indict officials at the Mansfield boot camp in connection with the death of a former inmate, a special prosecutor said Thursday. Grand jurors will hear evidence April 25 from witnesses and the Texas Ranger's investigation into the death of 18-year-old Bryan Alexander of Arlington, who was an inmate at the boot camp, also known as the Tarrant County Community Correctional Facility. Mr. Smith has notified Correctional Services Corp., which has run the boot camp since it opened in1992, that the Alexander family may file a civil lawsuit. A Correctional Services Corp., official said Thursday that a grand jury was the proper venue for consideration of the investigation. The Texas State Board of Nurses Examiners on March 2 indefinitely suspended the license of Knyvett Jane Reyes, the boot camp nurse who provided medical care to the teenager. Two other inmates have alleged that they received inadequate medical care at the camp, charges facility officials have denied. The Board of Criminal Court Judges voted Feb. 21 to assume management of the 370-bed facility when Correctional Services' operating contract ends Aug. 31. On March 5, a Tarrant County judge awarded $2.8 million in damages to three female former inmates who sued Correctional Services Corp. and a former drill instructor for sexual harassment. (The Dallas Morning News)

March 21, 2001
A Tarrant County criminal justice task force has recommended that the Mansfield boot camp program be discontinued and its beds used for housing probation violators. If approved, the program would occupy the 120 beds currently used for the boot camp. (Dallas Morning News, March 21, 2001)

March 6, 2001
Bryan Alexander's medical treatment while incarcerated at the Mansfield boot camp was so poor that one official compared it to "modern day torture," and the nurse supervising him has her license temporarily suspended. Knyvett Jane Reyes' nursing license by the Texas State Board of Nurse Examiners was suspended Feb. 13, according to documents released Monday by State Sen. Chris Harris' office. Mr. Alexander died Jan. 9 at John Peter Smith Hospital of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia caused by a staphylococcus inflection. Charles Smith, attorney for Rick Alexander, Bryan Alexander's father, said the nurse's suspension validates his client's claims. "This is what we've been saying all along, that medical service was substandard," he said. On Jan. 3, Mr. Alexander first notified medical staff through a locked drop box that he was not feeling well. Inmates at the boot camp submit sick forms into a locked box. In the case of Mr. Alexander, his form was not read until Jan. 4.Documents show Mr. Alexander was not assesses by Ms. Reyes until Jan.5, two days after he filled out a report detailing his complaints of flu-like symptoms. "I caught the flu or something from somebody. My whole body is sore. It hurts real bad when I cough," Mr. Alexander wrote on Jan. 3. "My nose gets closed up to where I can't even breathe and the pills I've been taking are not working. Mr. Reyes, who had been on Christmas vacation, returned to work Jan. 3. According to the drill instructor's testimony, Ms. Reyes was aware of the ailing teen's symptoms Jan. 4. On Jan. 5, he filled out another form. According to registered nurse carol Dobrich, an independent expert hired by the board to review the case, the treatment of Mr. Alexander, who died at John Peter Smith Hospital on Jan. 9, amounted to "modern day torture." "By 2 p.m. on January 5th, once she knew Bryan Alexander had as temperature of 101, and a red, sore throat, respondent knew he had an infection," according to Ms. Dobrich's testimony, outline in the order suspending the license. "And her failure to have him seen by a doctor or send him immediately to the emergency room was an inappropriate nursing response. (Arlington Morning News)

March 1, 2001
Three women who allege they were sexually harassed while inmates at the Mansfield boot camp asked a state judge Wednesday for up to $4 million in damages. "If this court does not dress down and discipline this attitude every women, everyone else, is subject to the same consideration these women got," Brice Cottongame, the attorney representing the three women, said in closing arguments. But the attorney for Correctional Services Corp., the Florida-based company that operates the boot camp, said employees, not the company, are at fault. the civil trail's final day included testimony from a Correctional Services executive, who refuted earlier testimony from a state senator. On Wednesday, Mr. Rau suggested that the senator misinterpreted a comment he made. "I did not make any statement like that," Mr. Rau said. "There was point in the conversation where I said I would like to get all the facts and hear both sides of the story. "The senator said, "What could the other side of the story be?' which is when the statement was made. That is the other side of the story." "We stand of Senator Harris' credibility," Mr. Cottongame said. "Sen. Harris has no ax to grind, no interest in this lawsuit." (Arlington Morning News)

February 27, 2001
In the latter dated Jan. 30, 2000 - 11 days after Kari Echels Chattha graduated from the boot camp - she wrote to Joseph Fonville telling him she missed him and she was worried about him. She used the term of endearment "honey." Tony Schaffer, an attorney representing Correctional Services Corp., which runs the boot camp, said Mrs. Chattha 's letter proves she was involved romantically with Mr. Fonville. Mrs. Chattha, 19, and two other plaintiffs, Karen fowler, 21, and Annawaynette Creek, 33 allege in their suit they were fondled and sexually harassed by boot camp workers during their incarceration at the Mansfield boot camp over a seven-month period in 1999. Ms. Fowler and Ms. Creek also are suing former boot camp maintenance worker Michael Zahn. Fred Bagely, a former vice president of CSC, testified in a videotaped deposition that sexual harassment was a problem at the Mansfield Facility. he initially learned of the allegations made by Mrs. Chattha, Ms. Fowler and Ms. Creek in 1999. he said. (Arlington Morning News)

February 26, 2001
The county's 19 criminal court judges voted unanimously last week to stop using a private contractor at the Tarrant County Community Corrections Facility, which houses the boot camp and three substance abuse programs. Three former female inmates are suing Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., alleging sexual abuse at the 370-bed facility. The company's contract expires Sept. 1. The lawsuit's allegations are among recent criticisms of the facility. Accusations of sexual misconduct by male guards against female inmates have plagued the camp since it opened in 1992. The facility has also endured accusations of the staff shortages and questions of proper medical care. Bryan Alexander, 18, a boot camp inmate, died of pneumonia Jan. 9. Relatives allege he didn't receive timely medical care. "I don't think any of us want to see CSC or any private company run this camp any longer," Judge Gallagher said last week. State Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington, who testified against Correctional Services Corp. on Friday in civil trail, said the company's problems may be a result of paying many of its employees near the minimum wage. Last year, 50 of 77 employees at the facility were paid less than $17,000 per year, according to company records. "They are in business of making money," Harris said. "As result, they are out there cutting corners." Attorneys for the plaintiffs have alleged that a corporate culture exists at the company. On Friday, Harris testified that a company executive vice president told him in a telephone conversation that the women at the boot camp "got what they wanted." He said the company "seemed to have no concern about what happened to the women." According to the company's contract, a female inmate cannot be alone with a male guard unless a female guard is present. Testimony during the first three days suggested that staff shortages prevented the company from following its policy of female inmate supervision, which is part of its contract with the county's probation department. "They are allowing employees to work 16-hour shifts, and sometimes more than that," Harris said outside the court after his testimony Friday. "It obviously came down to the corporate bottom line." (Star-Telegram)

February 23 , 2001
The private company that operates the Mansfield boot camp filed false reports about staffing hours to Tarrant County officials, the facility's former manager testified Thursday. John Renfroe, a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who worked for the Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. between June 1994 and June 2000, testified that he had reported the practice to his supervisors since 1995. "The data that had been in the monthly reports indicated that CSC as meeting or exceeding contract hour requirements," said Mr. Renfroe, a witness in a civil trail in which three women are suing the company because of sexual harassment at the facility. "If you did the math, what was being reported included extraneous, inappropriate figures." (Arlington Morning News)

February 22, 2001
Tarrant County criminal judges agreed Wednesday to assume management of the Mansfield boot camp when a contract with Correctional Services Corp. ends in August. the 19-member Board of Criminal Judges cited a $2.5 million budget shortfall in its decision not to renew the private company's contract. The facility could close by Sept. 1 if the legislature does not approve additional funding, the judges said. Recent controversies - including the death of an inmate, the hospitalization of two others and allegations of sexual exploitation of female inmates - were factors in the decision. State Sen. Chris Harris, R-Fort Worth, who has strongly criticized the boot camp's operation, praised the judges' decision and said he will ask other state agencies funding. "I think the judges are the ones who are accountable on that since they're the ones with the oversight," Mr. Harris said. "I think this is smartest thin they can do." (Dallas Morning News)

February 22, 2001
The private company that runs the Mansfield Boot Camp was negligent in allowing two former workers to sexually harass women at the facility. an attorney for the three former inmates said in court Wednesday. An attorney for Florida-based Correctional Services corp. apologized for the incidents and defended the company's record of quality management. Ms. Fowler and Ms. Creek allege former maintenance worker Michael Zahn sexually harassed and exploited them during their several month stays in 1999 at the boot camp. Mrs. Chattha alleges Joseph Fonville forced her to participate in improper sexual activity during her 1999 stay. In July, Mr. Zahn received two years' probation after he pleaded guilty to two counts of official oppression in connection with both incidents. "The attitude of this corporate defendant will outrage you." (Arlington Morning News)

February 22, 2001
As compliance officer at the Mansfield boot camp, John Renfore spent six years faulting the private contractor that runs the facility, citing staff shortages and a failure to protect female inmates from sexual abuse. That testimony Thursday before 141st District Court Judge Paul Enlow bolstered the case of the three former female inmates who are suing Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., which runs 370-bed facility for probationers. The women assaults contend CSC employees sexually abused then while they were serving sentences at the Tarrant County Community Corrections facility in Mansfield. On Thursday, Renfore said he outlined staffing shortages and inadequate supervision of female inmates in numerous memos that he sent to CSC officials and his bosses with Tarrant County Community Corrections Department. those complaints began in 1995 and continued until the probation department fired him in June, he said. Fort Worth lawyer W. Brice Cottongame, who is representing the women, said the incidents were caused by a corporate culture in CSC that does not protect female inmates and ignores their complaints of abuse. Sherry Johnson, who worked as a drill instructor at the camp last year, said grievances filed by inmates are often thrown away or shredded by CSC supervisors. She also said CSC employees retaliate against inmates who file grievances. "They would read them out loud and laugh, then throw them in the trash," she said. "They would be disregarded for misspelling a CSC employee's name." (Star-Telegram)

February 07, 2001
The former operations manager of a Mansfield boot camp filed a lawsuit Tuesday charging he was unjustly fired after pointing out deficiencies at the camp. Mr. Renfore says his relationship with Correctional Services and Ms. Calaway soured 1999 after he began filing critical reports with boot camp administrators. The reports said that because of staff shortages, the company was not keeping the facility properly cleaned and maintained, and not adequately supervising its staff and did not have enough drill staff on duty to properly supervise probationers.
(Arlington Morning News).

January 23, 2001
The Texas Rangers agreed Wednesday to act on a local judge's request for an independent investigation into the death of an 18-yeat old former Mansfield inmate. Mr. Harris, who called for wholesale changes at the boot camp five months ago in the wake of the alleged sexual abuse of three former inmates. since the Mr. Alexander's death, various judges have removes more the 50 of the camp's 120 inmates. (Arlington Morning News)

December 14, 2000
A former employee of the private company that operates a North Texas correctional facility is denying a lawsuit's claims that female inmates were sexually harassed. Zahn, in deposition released this week, said his behavior was limited to peeping through an attic vent while one of the women performed unsolicited sexual acts. (Arlington Morning News)

October 2, 2000
Three teenagers ran from security officers and scaled a seven foot fence in a recreation yard at the minimum-security center for non-violent offenders. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Oct.6, 2000)

January 16, 2000
Accusations that neglect caused the death of an inmate at a Mansfield boot camp last week may slam the door on a million-dollar deal for Tarrant County to lease its long-shuttered Cold Springs Correctional Facility, officials said Tuesday. The contract to operate the 384-bed Cold Springs facility for state inmates. After months of negotiations and some last minute changes, the contract, signed by CSC officials, was received by county officials Tuesday. But all five members of Commissioners Court and the sheriff now say they won't approve it unless the investigation into the death last week of 18-year old Bryan D. Alexander -- whose family says boot officials failed to get him proper medical care for pneumonia -- shows that CSC was not at fault. County officials' concerns about contracting with CSC for new prisoners were heightened last week when several district judges began pulling offenders out of the facility after Alexander died. The boot camp has gone through a year of turmoil, including escapes and allegations of drill instructors sexually assaulting female inmates, and has struggled with staffing. Similar issues plagued the facility in the mid-1990's, said James Slattery. Commissioners Dionne Bagsby and Marti Vanravenswaay voted against the CSC contract last year, saying they were concerned about problems at the boot camp. (Star-Telegram)

Colorado County Juvenile Facility
Eagle Lake, Texas
Correctional Services Corporation
February 7, 2006 The Victoria Advocate
Colorado County officials are expected to decide today if the county will close the Eagle Lake Juvenile Detention Facility Boot Camp. The decision will be made during a special commissioners court meeting at 9 a.m. The only item on the agenda is to consider authorizing County Judge Al Jamison to close operation of the boot camp. The county has been operating the facility since Sept. 1 after the previous operator, Florida-based Correction Services Corporation, notified the county it would end its contract on Aug. 31. The court conducted a six-month review, Jamison said in a Monday phone interview. "We're losing money on the facility and I would like to shut it down and quit the bleeding."

September 5, 2002
A juvenile sent to a military-style correctional boot camp in Eagle Lake died Saturday from what officials there said was a "clear case of suicide." Police in Eagle Lake were contacted after the young man's death and are conducting an investigation, MacIntyre said. They could not be reached for comment Sunday. The Colorado County facility, operated by the Sarasota, Fla.-based Youth Services International, is part of a growing trend of private correctional centers. (The Houston Chronicle)

Community House Arrest Program
Wichita County
September 20, 2003
Since the Community House Arrest Program started six months ago in Wichita County, the program has led to a hotbed of controversy, confusion and hard feelings. But, for better or worse, CHAP is flat-lining this month. The program, designed to monitor people charged with non-violent crimes with electronic ankle bracelets until they are sentenced or charges are dropped, is expected to shut down by Oct. 1, program administrators said Thursday. "Although the commissioners, several judges and many in the Sheriff's Department are behind the concept of the house arrest and its potential benefits, there can be no such program without a concerted effort from the staff of the District Attorney's Office," (Times Record News)

Cornell Corrections
Houston, Texas
October 9, 2006 Market Watch
Cornell Companies, Inc. (CRN : news, chart, profile ) announced today the execution of a definitive merger agreement with Veritas Capital, under which Veritas will acquire Cornell in a transaction valued at approximately $518.6 million, including the assumption or repayment of approximately $273.6 million in debt. Under the terms of the agreement, Cornell stockholders will receive $18.25 in cash for each share of common stock they hold. The Company's Board of Directors has unanimously approved the agreement and will recommend that Cornell's stockholders approve the merger. James E. Hyman, Cornell's chairman and chief executive officer, said, "The Board of Directors has completed a comprehensive review of the strategic alternatives available to the Company, the result of which we are pleased to announce today. The Board endorses this transaction and believes it to be in the best interest of Cornell's shareholders. Veritas Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in New York. Founded in 1992 by Robert B. McKeon, Veritas invests primarily in companies specializing in outsourcing services to the government, primarily in the areas of defense and aerospace, security and infrastructure. Veritas' portfolio of companies includes, or has included, DynCorp International, Integrated Defense Technologies, Vertex Aerospace, McNeil Technologies, The Wornick Company, and TRAK Communications, among others. Veritas is dedicated to providing the highest level of critical services and equipment to the defense and federal sectors around the world. For more information, please visit www.veritascapital.com.

September 29, 2006 New York Times
Pirate Capital, a $1.7 billion fund based in Norwalk, Conn., lost half its investment team this week, according to a letter from the founder and portfolio manager, Thomas Hudson. In addition, Pirate, an “activist” fund that pressures management to increase shareholder value, is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission on suspicion of failing to alert the commission when it was selling stock, according to one person briefed on the inquiry. Mr. Hudson’s letter, dated Sept. 28 and on stationery with a pirate ship logo, said that Pirate would close to new investors Sunday, to focus on delivering returns rather than collecting more money. “I’ve decided to return the firm to its roots,” Mr. Hudson wrote. “The goal is to focus on returns and not the size of the assets we manage.” Pirate Capital has had a difficult year: its flagship Jolly Roger Fund is up only 3.3 percent, while its activist fund is up 2.86 percent, according to materials sent to investors. Those returns are well below the average activist fund. Hedge Fund Research in Chicago tracks the returns of 44 funds that operate solely activist strategies; through August those funds have returned 10.39 percent. An S.E.C. spokesman, John Nester, declined to comment. Isa Bolotin, head of investor relations at Pirate Capital, did not return calls seeking comment. Pirate is known for its unusually brash tactics and unabashed style. A New York magazine cover article reported that Zachary George, 27, an analyst with the firm and former competitive snowboarder, told the chief executive of the Cornell Companies, a prison operator, that “You work for us,” and that Mr. George and Pirate wanted Cornell sold and the chief executive sacked. “Next year we’re going to be here, and you won’t,” Mr. George told the chief executive, according to the article. Mr. Hudson said two investment professionals, including Mr. George, resigned on Monday. On Wednesday, Carl Klein, a portfolio manager, resigned, and Mr. Hudson asked two more analysts to leave. Five people, including Mr. Hudson, remain. The S.E.C. is investigating whether Pirate was late in reporting to the commission material changes in its holdings. Investors with at least a 5 percent stake must report any changes to those holdings.

September 1, 2006 Alaska Report
The FBI served four more search warrants today in its investigation of the relationship between lawmakers and oilfield services company VECO Corporation, an Anchorage-based oil field services and construction company whose executives are major contributors to political campaigns. Bill Allen, owner of VECO, and his firm, were involved in a renovation of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' chalet in Girdwood in the recent past. The Associated Press is reporting that the search warrants seek "from the period of October 2005 to the present, any and all documents concerning, reflecting or relating to proposed legislation in the state of Alaska involving either the creation of a natural gas pipeline or the petroleum production tax." An Anchorage FBI spokesman says that about two dozen search warrants have been executed so far, including three today in Anchorage and one in Willow. No arrests have been made as of yet. AlaskaReport has learned that a staffer in one of the offices raided has been providing information to federal authorities. In an interview with KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Wev Shea, a former U.S. attorney for Alaska says he knows who created the climate that he alleges allowed corruption to flourish. "The Republican Party is going to rue the day in this state for allowing Randy Ruedrich (chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska) to remain as a chair. He's bringing this party down and it's bad." KTUU also interviewed Rep. Eric Croft. He says he saw this coming two years ago, during a legislative committee meeting concerning VECO’s pitch for a sole-source contract award for a private prison. "I said at the time, in 2004, on the Whittier proposal, someone's going to jail over this 'cause I could see how corrupt the process was," said Croft, D-Anchorage.

August 31, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
Federal agents swarmed legislative offices around the state Thursday, executing search warrants in a coordinated series of raids that appeared to target the longstanding relationship between the oil-field service company Veco and leading lawmakers. Above Anchorage’s 4th Avenue, FBI agents spent most of the afternoon behind the closed doors and drawn blinds of the fifth-floor offices of Senate President Ben Stevens and Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery, both Anchorage Republicans. Through slits in the blinds, one agent in Stevens’ office, wearing rubber gloves, could be seen packing away evidence in a container. In Juneau, tourists and residents were greeted with the extraordinary sight of FBI agents hauling out files form the Alaska State Capitol after searching offices there. After the FBI searched his Wasilla office and questioned him, Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, the chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil & Gas, said the investigation was focused on Veco. Other legislative offices known to have been searched Thursday included those of Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, and Sen. Donny Olson of Nome. Kott, a former House speaker, and Weyhrauch are Republicans. Olson is the only Democrat in the group. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said federal agents executed about 20 search warrants Thursday, not all in legislative offices. The warrants were executed in Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Eagle River and Girdwood, he said. Ray Metcalfe, a former legislator and the founder of the independent Republican Moderate Party, said he has been trying to get the authorities interested in what he described as the “corrupt” relationship between Veco and the Republican-lead legislature, principally Ben Stevens. “I put all the stuff in front of federal prosecutors a year and a half ago,” Metcalfe said Thursday, clearly relishing the turn of events. “I laid hundreds of pages of detailed information alleging bribery, and I distributed it to federal authorities, I distributed it to the U.S. Attorney’s office, I distributed it to the (state attorney general’s) Office of Special Prosecutions, and we held a demonstration in front of the attorney general’s office that hardly anyone showed up for.” Metcalfe attempted to initiate a recall campaign against Stevens, but his effort was rejected by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman on legal grounds. After first announcing he’d run for re-election in November, Stevens changed his mind in June and opted to retire.Tamara Cook, a lawyer who heads the nonpartisan legal services division of the Legislature, said Thursday evening that she reviewed a couple of the search warrants at the request of legislators or aides upon whom they were served. The search warrants allowed the FBI to search computers and office files including financial records, she said. The warrants named Veco Corp., she said, but could not say whether Veco was a target or whether the investigation concerned oil taxes, its failed push to build a private prison in Alaska or something else.

August 28, 2006 Yahoo.com
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN - News) announced today that Mark S. Croft, the General Counsel and Secretary of the Company, resigned on Saturday, August 26, 2006, to attend to personal matters unrelated to his role as an officer of the Company. Patrick N. Perrin, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, has been appointed to the office of Secretary of the Company to succeed Mr. Croft.

June 5, 2006 Houston Business Journal
Cornell Companies Inc. on Monday afternoon said it has retained a financial advisor to assist the Houston operator of prisons in analyzing ways "to maximize shareholder value." The announcement, which came in a brief news release distributed Monday after the regular session of the stock market closed, essentially puts Cornell (NYSE: CRN - News) on the block as a candidate to be acquired. Beyond making the brief statement about hiring a financial advisor, Cornell in the Monday release said the prison operator does not intend to make further announcements on the matter until the NYSE-listed company "has made definitive decisions on its future strategic direction." No assurance can be given that any transaction will be pursued," according to the Cornell press release.

February 10, 2006 Yahoo
Cornell Companies, Inc. announced today the settlement of a securities class action lawsuit. In re Cornell Companies, Inc. Securities Litigation was originally filed by certain Cornell stockholders in March 2002 on behalf of all purchasers of Cornell's common stock from March 6, 2001 to March 5, 2002. The Company has agreed to settle this class action lawsuit for $7.0 million to avoid further protracted and expensive litigation. The settlement amount will be funded through the Company's directors' and officers' liability insurance and will have no impact on the Company's financial position, results of operations or cash flows. Under the terms of the settlement, Cornell has not admitted to any wrongdoing.

September 29, 2005 Baltimore Sun
Two Maryland judges said yesterday that the Ehrlich administration's decision to close the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School without a clear plan to replace it is jeopardizing the welfare of youths and putting public safety at risk. Baltimore County Circuit Judge Kathleen Cox and Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Pamela North told legislators that with Hickey preparing to close, there are not enough places to send tough young offenders who need to be removed from their homes to protect their safety and the community. The department said some Maryland youths will be sent to programs in Texas, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio with rates ranging from $47,450 to $116,800 per child per year. The list includes three facilities run by a for-profit Texas-based company that, according to published reports, was forced to close one of its centers amid complaints of abuse. Under pressure from Pennsylvania authorities, a company operating as Cornell Abraxas closed its New Morgan Academy near Reading in 2002 after about a dozen children were sexually assaulted by adults over the span of less than two years, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The same company runs programs that the Department of Juveniles Services plans to use in Shelby, Ohio; Marienville, Pa.; and South Mountain, Pa., according to a list provided to legislators yesterday. Another facility on the list has had a more recent, but less severe, incident of violence. The Summit Academy reform school in Herman, Pa., has said that four workers were fired in July over a June 18 incident in which a 17-year-old male student suffered cuts to his face and ear.

September 29, 2005 Star-Telegram
In a move denounced as a political witchhunt, Rep. Tom DeLay was indicted Wednesday with two associates on a felony charge of conspiring to circumvent Texas' prohibition of corporate campaign donations to secure the Republican takeover of the Texas House in 2002. Shortly after Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced the indictment, the Republican congressman from Sugar Land resigned his powerful majority leader post in Washington, at least temporarily. DeLay, 58, is accused of conspiring with two associates to convert $190,000 in donations from several corporations into campaign contributions on behalf of seven Republican candidates who were involved in what many had believed would be close contests for seats in the Texas House.

September 28, 2005 Bloomberg
U.S. Representative Tom DeLay, the No. 2 Republican in the House, was indicted by a Texas grand jury for criminal conspiracy in connection with illegal corporate political donations, prompting him to give up his leadership post. Two former campaign aides, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, were also charged with conspiracy by the state grand jury in Travis County, according to the single-count indictment. The charge stems from an investigation into alleged use of illegal corporate contributions by DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, in the 2002 races for the state House of Representatives. The four-page indictment charges that DeLay conspired with Ellis and Colyandro to use donations from companies including Williams Companies Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., now Sears Holdings Corp., to help finance the election campaigns of seven members of the Texas House in 2002. Under Texas law, corporations aren't permitted to donate to candidates. Other companies named, but like Williams and Sears, not charged in the indictment were Diversified Collections Services Inc., Cornell Companies Inc., Bacardi U.S.A. Inc. and Questerra Corp.

September 22, 2005 Texas Lawyer
A private corrections company seeks to hold Locke Liddell & Sapp liable for more than $5 million that's allegedly missing from an account set up for a land deal. Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. sued Locke Liddell and David Montgomery, a partner in the firm, alleging malpractice, among other things. The company filed Cornell Companies Inc. v. Locke Liddell & Sapp, et al. on Aug. 26 in Houston's 333rd District Court. In its petition, Cornell alleges that the defendants "dropped the ball" by failing to ensure that a proper escrow account was set up in 2003 to hold the company's funds. Those funds were intended to be used to buy land in Colorado on which to develop a regional correctional rehabilitation center. As alleged in the petition, the defendants gave Cornell the "green light" to wire almost $13 million into an account that was purported to be an escrow account. "There was no escrow agent; there was no escrow account," alleges Scott Hershman, one of the attorneys representing Cornell. The suit against Locke Liddell is related to a suit that a Cornell subsidiary filed last year in the Superior Court of Fulton County in Atlanta. Cornell alleged in its second amended complaint in Cornell Corrections of California Inc. v. Longboat Global Advisors, et al. that attorney Edgar J. Beaudreault of Roswell, Ga., a defendant in the suit, handled the construction loan transaction on behalf of Longboat, which was providing financing for the corrections facility project. Cornell Corrections alleged in the Georgia complaint that Beaudreault, who is also Longboat's vice president and managing director, arranged for the escrow account but it turned out to be a regular bank account. Cornell Corrections further alleged in the complaint that, although the company wired the funds to Bank of America in August 2003, it didn't learn until November of that year that the bank was not holding money in escrow and that a withdrawal never authorized by Cornell Corrections had been made. Hershman, a partner in Lackey Hershman in Dallas, says he doesn't expect Cornell Corrections will be able to collect the damages awarded in the Georgia case, because he thinks the money is gone. Michael Shaunessy, an Austin, Texas, attorney who represents plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases but is not involved in Cornell's suit against Locke Liddell, says the fact that a company hires lawyers to handle this type of transaction doesn't eliminate the company's responsibility to exercise due diligence in the matter. Shaunessy, a partner in Shaunessy & Burnett, says he expects Locke Liddell and Montgomery to raise a causation defense, arguing that those who took the money out of the account caused Cornell's loss. Cornell can argue that, if the defendants had set up the account so that the money couldn't be moved without the company's authorization, Cornell would not have suffered the loss, he says.

September 13, 2005 American-Statesman
A Travis County grand jury today added new felony charges against two officials with Texans for a Republican Majority who first were indicted last fall. The grand jury re-indicted political consultants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis on first-degree felony charges that the two laundered a $190,000 corporate check into campaign donations during the 2002 elections. It added lesser felony charges of unlawfully making a contribution to a political party and criminal conspiracy involving the $190,000 transaction. Just weeks before the 2002 election, Colyandro, who was executive director of the political committee created by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, sent a blank check to his counterpart, Ellis, in Washington.

September 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A Travis County grand jury indicted a business organization and a political committee founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Thursday on felony charges of violating election laws by using corporate money to influence state elections. The indictments accuse the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee of two counts of illegally soliciting corporate money for political campaigns. The indictment of TRMPAC is significant because it reflects on DeLay's role in overseeing the committee. DeLay served on its board of advisers and helped raise some of the corporate money at the core of the controversy. Texas election law prohibits the use of corporate or labor-union money to influence races for elective office. TRMPAC could face a fine of up to $40,000, but the committee filed articles of dissolution with the Texas Ethics Commission in July. Earle said the dissolution does not matter because TRMPAC's management or board of advisers can be held liable for its criminal conduct.

August 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A state district judge refused Tuesday to dismiss charges of money laundering and accepting illegal political contributions against two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. Judge Bob Perkins denied arguments from John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that the charges were based on an unconstitutionally vague law and that the indictments were improperly worded. Lawyers for Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fundraising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, and Jim Ellis, who worked for Americans for a Republican Majority, have said they will appeal, likely delaying any trial for at least several months. The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. The money-laundering charges are based on $190,000 in corporate money that was sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee.

June 3, 2005 Houston Business Journal
Insurgent shareholder Pirate Capital LLC has captured the board of Cornell Cos. Inc. Pirate gained control of the Houston-based prison operator last month after setting sail on a proxy fight that originated a year earlier. Toting a treasure trove of Cornell common shares -- a 14.8 percent stake as of mid-May -- the Connecticut-based investment firm emerged with the right to put seven directors on Cornell's nine-member board. Cornell controls the remaining two seats on the board, which increased from seven to nine members as part of a new agreement with Pirate. "It appeared that (Cornell) had been heading for a distracting and costly proxy battle," notes Scott Schneeberger, a stock analyst at Lehman Brothers. Cornell also got Pirate to concede that the investment firm will not pursue a transaction to take the publicly traded Houston company private for at least the next two years. At the same time, Cornell Chairman James Hyman will no longer steer the board of directors after the end of this month. Despite 20 years of experience in operations, finance, process management, mergers and acquisitions, Hyman's name is conspicuously missing from the slate of nominees for the new board.

July 13, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A state district judge declined Tuesday to dismiss charges of accepting illegal political contributions against an associate of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Lawyers for John Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fund-raising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, had claimed that the indictment against him was based on an unconstitutionally vague law. Judge Bob Perkins also declined to dismiss a charge of money laundering against Colyandro, although that issue remains technically alive. The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. The money-laundering charges are related to $190,000 in corporate money sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee. The committee then gave the same amount to seven Texas House candidates.

March 11, 2005 The Deal
True to its swashbuckling name, hedge fund Pirate Capital LLC is preparing to make a run at struggling Cornell Cos., a prison and juvenile-facilities operator. Since last year, Houston-based Cornell has been under pressure from Thomas R. Hudson Jr., portfolio manager at the 2-year-old Norwalk Conn.-based hedge fund, to seek a buyer. After a series of missteps by Cornell, Pirate's Jolly Roger Fund LP launched a proxy contest on Feb. 24 to take over all seven seats on Cornell's board at an annual meeting expected in June. "You can just see the shots being fired across the bow of Cornell," says Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst at Fulcrum Global Partners LLC in New York. Skolnick says a strategic acquirer would pay roughly $20.50 a share for the assets — $270 million in equity plus $112 million in debt. Cornell traded early last week at around $14.40 a share. Anton Hie, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in Nashville, says a strategic acquirer would value Cornell at $16 to $18 a share, and would cut costs by eliminating overhead and other administrative expenses. A financial buyer could break up the company and sell various facilities "in pieces," Hie says. Skolnick, whose firm does not do work for Cornell, cites Nashville-based Correction Corp. of America and Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., the two largest private providers of adult-prison management services in the U.S., as likely buyers. Hie, whose firm does not own Cornell stock, says CCA and Geo might be more interested in Cornell's adult facilities, but he would not estimate a valuation on these assets. Privately held Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, could also be interested, Skolnick says. She and other analysts say the other major player in the industry, Sarasota, Fla.-based Corrections Services Corp., is smaller than Cornell and unlikely to make a bid. "These publicly traded companies are interested in growing, and acquiring Cornell would help them improve their bottom line," says a corrections consultant. Officials for CCA and Geo did not return calls seeking comment. Cornell posted a loss of $897,000 for the third quarter of fiscal 2004, the latest results available, compared with a profit of $1.4 million a year earlier, even as sales rose to $74.7 million from $68.6 million. The company has made some internal changes. In January it hired James Hyman to replace outgoing CEO Harry Phillips. Skolnick says Hyman has some real estate experience but "may not know what he's gotten himself into." Pirate Capital, which has a 14.8% Cornell stake, has yet to offer an opinion of Hyman. As part of a broad strategy to learn shareholder concerns, Hyman has met with numerous investors, including activist hedge fund managers, since he took over in January. He has also huddled with Pirate officials several times in the past month, and says he plans to do so again. "It's part of an ongoing process," Hyman says. "I asked [investors] to be very frank and tell me as straight as they can how they view Cornell." He says Cornell would consider any offer, but that the company is not seeking a buyer. Cornell also recently replaced director Marcus Watts with Isabella Cunningham, a communications professor at the University of Texas. That move, says a shareholder, suggests "creeping compliance" with Pirate's wishes. Shareholders had repeatedly asked the board to replace Watts, a partner at law firm Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP, who they argued lacked sufficient independence. Locke Liddell & Sapp has a business relationship with Cornell. Cunningham, considered independent, developed a criminal-justice program at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. Skolnick says Hyman will have his work cut out for him. He acknowledges that Cornell has made some major mistakes lately. For example, it leased an abandoned jail in Bernalillo County, N.M., and announced in spring 2003 that the facility would house roughly 1,000 inmates by the end of that year and generate $25 million in annual revenue. But after lease problems and poor planning, Skolnick says, the facility held only 300 inmates by the end of 2004 and brought in significantly less revenue than promised. Cornell's acquisition of an abandoned training school in Plankinton, S.D., was another botched purchase. The company turned the school into a juvenile-detention center with an investment of $200,000. For the program to be profitable, Cornell needed the state to pay $175 a day per inmate. But the state agreed to pay only $125. After three months, Cornell closed the operation. "What this points out is how Cornell generally does not complete the necessary due diligence before going out and opening facilities," Skolnick says. "They do a terrible job of completing projects and ramping up occupancy in their facilities." On Feb. 1 Cornell announced plans to buy San Diego-based Correctional Systems Inc. for $10 million, an acquisition Hyman says is complementary. Other shareholders have risen to Pirate Capital's support. "We believe that the board's attempt to simultaneously replace the company's CEO and CFO without reaching out to Pirate Capital, its largest shareholder, represents another example of poor judgment," says Nelson Obus, president of New York hedge fund Wynnefield Capital LLC in a January Securities and Exchange Commission filing. People familiar with Pirate say its nominees have vastly more experience in corrections-facility management, restructuring and turnarounds than Cornell's current board. Pirate nominee Richard Crane, a corrections-project consultant, is a former general counsel to CCA, one of the companies that might consider acquiring Cornell. Then there's Sally Walker, president of Encourage Youth Corp., a consulting firm specializing in programs for juvenile offenders. Pirate is also nominating two people from within its own ranks: portfolio manager Hudson and investment analyst Zachary George. Says Skolnick: "Shareholders would be well-served to have a professional management team that is focused on returns instead of revenue growth."

March 10, 2005 Dow Jones
Cornell Cos.' (CRN) fourth-quarter loss ballooned as the company took a number of charges and announced that it will eliminate two layers of management and close underperforming programs. In a press release Thursday, the prison operator said that among the jobs eliminated was that of President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas R. Jenkins. Chief Executive James Hyman will assume the chief operating officer responsibilities. In a bid to improve its operations, Cornell said it was trimming its management, cutting Jenkins' job as well as a number of vice president and director-level positions that "interfered" between business unit managers and their programs. The shakeup is just the latest in a slew of management changes at Cornell. Hyman himself was named chief executive in January. John Nieser, the chief financial officer, was named in February. Meanwhile, a group of shareholders including Pirate Capital LLC, which hold about 15% of the company, have called for the entire board to step down. Apart from changes to its management, Cornell said Thursday it will close a number of its programs that consumed cash and managerial talent that could better be spent elsewhere. The programs, set to be shuttered in the first and second quarters, include the Joz-Arz program in the District of Columbia, the Residential School in Illinois, which is owned by the company, and behavioral health programs in Pennsylvania.

November 9, 2004 PRNews
Cornell Companies, a leading provider of privatized adult and juvenile correctional, treatment and educational services, announced today that the Company has commenced a search for a new chief executive officer. Harry J. Phillips, Jr. will continue to serve as chief executive officer until a successor is named and, thereafter, will continue as chairman of the board of directors.

October 22, 2004 AP
Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who have been indicted for alleged campaign finance violations will be allowed to put off answering a civil lawsuit until their criminal charges have been resolved. State District Judge Joe Hart on Thursday postponed a civil lawsuit against John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, who were charged last month with laundering corporate donations during the 2002 elections.

September 22, 2004 AP
The money laundering allegation in a congressional ethics complaint filed against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay involves the same $190,000 in political contributions that led to indictments of the Texas congressman's aides on similar charges. DeLay is accused in an ethics complaint of misusing the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee to launder $190,000 in illegal corporate contributions through the Republican National Committee for use in Texas legislative races. On Tuesday, a grand jury in Texas indicted Jim Ellis, a paid consultant to Texans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of the Texas committee, on money laundering charges involving the same $190,000 check. A third aide was indicted on separate charges. The indictments allege that on Sept. 13, 2002, Ellis delivered a check for $190,000 to the Republican National Committee. The check was signed by Colyandro and made out to the Republican National State Elections Committee. Accompanying it was a list of several GOP Texas legislative candidates and the amount of money that each should get from the RNC, according to the indictment. The indictments said the $190,000 came from corporate contributions to Texans for A Republican Majority. Givers included Diversified Collection Services Inc., $50,000; Sears, Roebuck and Co., $25,000; Williams Companies Inc., $25,000; Cornell Companies, $10,000, Bacardi USA, $20,000 and Questerra Corp., $25,000, the indictments said. They did not account for the remaining contributions. The Republican National State Elections Committee subsequently wrote checks totaling $190,000 to seven Texas candidates, the indictment alleges. Texas law prohibits the use of corporate money for direct political purposes.

August 15, 2004
Rarely does the siren of shareholder revolt sound as loudly as it has at Cornell Cos., a Houston-based operator of adult and juvenile corrections centers and treatment facilities. During a conference call last week, investors irate over the company's performance blasted Chairman Harry Phillips. "Our capital is being wasted here, and our company is being undermanaged," said Zachary George with Pirate Capital, a Connecticut hedge fund that owns 7.5 percent of Cornell's shares, making it one of the company's biggest investors. "We are not going to let you guys destroy this company. Your time at Cornell is limited." Pirate, which began buying Cornell shares in May, targets companies it believes are undervalued. It isn't alone in its displeasure: Thirty-five percent of the company's investors withheld their votes for directors at the last annual meeting, and that was without any organized effort. Investors have ample reason to be ticked off. Net income was almost $8 million in 2000, but the company hasn't seen a profit like that since. Last year, earnings were less than $4 million. Profit margins have been halved during the same period. Cornell's market value has tumbled to $166 million from $228 million in 2001. For Cornell's management, the hour of reckoning is nigh. Promises of a prosperous future will no longer quell the discontent. The sirens are sounding, and the message for management is clear: The future is now. (Houston Chronicle)

August 14, 2002
Prison builder and operator Cornell Cos. Inc. said on Tuesday its second quarter profit fell, in part from a one-time charge for a federal prison contract in Mississippi that it failed to win. The company, which operates 69 prisons, detention and substance treatment centers across America, said short-term prospects for new contracts were uncertain as federal funds were diverted to the new Homeland Security Department. But Cornell also said it was optimistic about the growth in the future as prison recidivism rates increase, along with demand from Immigration and Naturalization Service detention centers. In addition, increasing budgetary restraints on states should drive demand for prison privatization. Cornell said unusual items, including about $1 million in costs of the failed bid for the Southeast Federal Bureau of Prisons project in Mississippi reduced earnings by 5 cents per share. (Yahoo Finance)

August 13, 2002
Prison builder and operator Cornell Cos. Inc. on Tuesday said net income fell in the second quarter, pressured in part by a one-time charge after it failed to win a federal prison contract. (Yahoo Finance)

June 2, 2002
Cornell Companies Inc. (NYSE:CRN - News) updated today its outlook following the announcement of results from a recent federal procurement process. The Company previously submitted a response to a request for proposal from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) for a potential new prison in the Southeast U.S. The Company did not receive this award. Since these awards require construction to be completed within 365 days, the Company had successfully pre-arranged and received bank commitments for a construction and lease-financing vehicle that would allow it to meet this schedule. As a result, the Company has elected to expense approximately $530,000 in after-tax costs in the second quarter, or $0.04 earnings per share, representing bank commitment fees and related accounting and legal costs. (Yahoo Finance)

May 31, 2002
Shares of prison builder and operator Cornell Cos. Inc. dropped more than 19 percent in intraday trading on Friday, a day after the Federal Bureau of Prisons awarded a contract to a Cornell rival, analysts said. The 1,500-bed contract went to Corrections Corp. of America, the No.1 prison operator, on Thursday. Cornell was the other finalist for the $109 million contract. "It's a disappointment. There's a chance they could have gotten it," said Jim McDonald, an analyst with First Analysis. But the chances were slim, he added, because Corrections Corp. had an empty facility in Georgia, whereas Cornell would have had to build a new facility. Lehman Brothers downgraded Cornell's stock on Friday morning to "buy" from "strong buy." Cornell's troubles may not be over, said Matt Hull, an analyst at Avondale Partners, who has the stock at an "accumulate" rating. The prison bureau's move "removes growth from the picture at the federal level, and state budgets have less money, so you don't see a lot of prison expansion at the state level," he said. "These stocks sell on growth, and that's what were missing," Hull said. "Now there's no near-term catalyst." (Yahoo Finance)

May 1, 2002
At the D. Ray James Prison in south Georgia, the inmates have been kept behind bars by all types of lawmen: sheriffs, chiefs of police and more than a few wardens. But never, until now, have they been kept in jail by a charity. In August, a partnership headed by Provident Foundation Inc., a not-for-profit group based in Baton Rouge, La., bought the prison, a 1,500-man compound on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. Corrections experts say they don't know of another example in recent times of a charity owning a prison. Provident isn't a conventional charity. It is run by a group of lawyers, investment bankers and financial consultants. Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. and other Wall Street titans do its financial work. With that impressive firepower, Provident is trying to carve a unique niche for itself in the corrections world, offering off-the-books financing for public and private prison operators. It has helped the state of North Carolina and Cornell Cos., a for-profit prison company, buff their financial profiles. Provident does this by creating special subsidiaries and partnerships that take advantage of controversial accounting rules and allow its clients to keep debt off of their balance sheets. As scrutiny of complex accounting grows in the wake of the Enron Corp. collapse, Provident offers the unusual twist of a nonprofit playing the off-the-books game. The foundation's major deal with Cornell sparked an embarrassing restatement of the Houston-based company's financial figures last month. The company's top official has been stripped of his titles as chairman and chief executive. In April 2001, Provident formed a subsidiary, Carolina Corrections LLC, to bid for a contract to build three 1,000-bed prisons for North Carolina. This arrangement allows North Carolina to avoid borrowing more money itself at a time when its budget deficit has grown. But in the long run, renting could cost the state more than simply building the prisons itself. North Carolina's nonpartisan fiscal-research division has estimated the 20-year-lease expense as $370 million. That's $146 million more than the $224 million purchase price. Early this year, Cornell's stock continued to rise. But on Jan. 31, its auditor, Andersen, sent a troubling letter to members of the Cornell board's audit committee. Acting after it had come under fire for its auditing of Enron, Andersen questioned the purpose of an unusual $3.7 million retainer Cornell last August had agreed to pay Lehman. The retainer wasn't linked to a specific assignment but was supposed to pay for work Lehman might do in the future. Six days after receiving the letter, Cornell announced plans to review its accounting of the August sale-leaseback. Its stock fell 43% in one day. (The Wall Street Journal)

April 29, 2002
Cornell has announced that it will establish a memorial to American ideals at the Shanksville-Stonycreek school, near the Pennsylvania site of the crash of United Flight 93 on September 11th. (Cornell Companies/Yahoo! Finance)

March 8, 2002
Milberg Weiss, Levy and Levy, P.C., Cauley Geller Bowman and Coates, LLP, and Schiffrin and Barroway, LLP announced that a class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of purchasers of Cornell Companies, Inc. The complaint charges Cornell and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants issued favorable but false statements and made false and misleading statements about the Company's business. (Press Releases from Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes and Lerach, LLP, Levy and Levy, P.C., Cauley Geller Bowman and Coates, LLP, and Schiffrin and Barroway, LLP)

April 25, 2002
This isn’t a good time to be CEO of a Houston company audited by Arthur Andersen. Especially if you are a former Arthur Andersen accountant. And most especially if you may have to restate your earnings because the “innovative” off-the-books transaction you arranged six months ago could violate the same SEC rules that exposed Enron’s partnerships. In August, Steve Logan completed a deal that he boasted would enable Cornell Cos., the country’s third-largest builder and operator of prisons, to double the industry’s growth rate. His deal involves a sale/leaseback transaction, in which facilities are sold to a bond-issuing special-purpose company, Municipal Corrections Finance, or MCF, and leased back to Cornell at a favorable rate. “We’ve changed the industry,” the CEO declared last summer. “This is something that competitors have been trying to do for a decade. No one else has been able.” On Jan. 31, auditors alerted Cornell of a possible conflict with SEC rules, which require that the equity owner of MCF—in this case affiliates of Lehman Brothers—own at least 3 percent of MCF for it to qualify as a separate company. Cornell’s shares fell 43 percent on the news, to $9.96 from $17.48. At issue is $3.65 million Cornell paid to Lehman Brothers in September. The fee was reported as a retainer to Lehman Brothers for future financial advisory services. However, it could also be seen as a belated payment for Lehman Brothers’ role in setting up MCF, which would reduce Lehman Brothers’ equity below the required level. Outside ownership was the missing ingredient in Enron’s partnerships. (The e-Network for CEOs)

March 6, 2002
Prison builder and operator Cornell Cos Inc. said Wednesday it will restate its earnings for 2000 and for three quarters of 2001 after reviewing two off-balance-sheet transactions, a move that will reduce previously reported earnings. Last month Cornell said its board of directors -- acting on the recommendation of its independent auditor -- had formed a special committee to review an August off-balance-sheet transaction in which Cornell sold 11 facilities and then leased them back. It also said it was reviewing what it called a ``synthetic lease transaction'' which occurred in 2000. The facilities were sold to affiliates of an unnamed investment bank. Cornell said Wednesday that it has decided to consolidate the transactions, moving them back onto the company's income statements and balance sheets. The effect of the restatement will require waivers of certain covenants under the company's senior credit facility, Cornell added. Based on discussions with its lenders, Cornell expects to reach agreement to waive and/or restructure the covenants. (Reuters)

February 11, 2002 Last Wednesday, Cornell Cos. , a Houston-based prison builder and operator, announced that it is reviewing its books - or rather, reviewing an off-book transaction that it entered into during 2001. Not surprisingly, in this post-Enron environment, the market reacted very negatively. However, from the Sleuth's point of view, there are several "disconcerting" aspects to all of this: Even though this "retainer agreement" was reportedly entered into during the third quarter, the Sleuth was unable to find references to any "retainer agreement" in CRN's third quarter 10-Q Report, and there was no evidence that the company had either paid this $3.65 million to Lehman Brothers or had recognized this debt as a liability. Likewise, this $3.65 million "retainer" does not appear to have been used to pay for any of the costs of the company's secondary offering, announced on November 27, 2001, for which Lehman Brothers was the lead underwriter. A review of the Company's filings with the SEC for this offering fails to show that any of CRN's expenses from this secondary offering were paid out of any "retainer agreement." And then, the company also announced a changing of the guard. One of its outside directors would become chairman, while the now-former chairman would remain president and chief executive of the company. This press release came only eleven minutes after the announcement of the investigation. (Securities Sleuth)

February 6, 2002
Prison builder and operator Cornell Wednesday said it was reviewing accounting issues raised by its auditor related to an off-balance-sheet transaction, in one of the clearest signs yet that accountants are increasingly questioning such deals after Enron's collapse. Cornell said its board of directors had formed a special committee to review an August transaction in which Cornell sold 11 facilities and then leased them back. Accounting firm Andersen, under fire for blessing Enron's books, was Cornell's auditor, according to its most recent quarterly report. Cornell, which said the review could have material financial consequences, also said its president and chief executive will no longer be chairman. The news sent Cornell shares plunging on the New York Stock Exchange, where they lost more than half their value before recouping some losses. Cornell shares were down 40 percent, or $7.03 to $10.45 on the New York Stock Exchange in late afternoon trading, making it the largest percentage loser on the NYSE on Wednesday. Cornell said the facilities were sold to an entity owned by affiliates of an unnamed investment bank for net proceeds of $173 million. Cornell is focusing on a $3.65 million non-refundable fee it paid to the investment bank and whether that fee affected the previously reported accounting treatment for the transaction, the company said. It also is looking at whether its financial statements appropriately reflected the amount paid to the investment bank. The fee was for financial advisory services concerning future financing vehicles and strategic development. Depending on the results of the accounting review, the company could be forced to put the facilities back on its balance sheet as assets and take on the debt of Municipal Corrections Finance L.P., the entity formed to buy the facilities, as a liability, Cornell said. Municipal Corrections Finance is a completely independent entity from Cornell and involves no Cornell employees, the spokesman said. Cornell, which provides prison, treatment and educational services to government agencies, also said it had installed an outside director, Harry Phillips Jr., as its new chairman. Phillips succeeds Steve Logan, who remains president and chief executive of Cornell. (Reuters)

February 7, 2002
Shares of private prison operator Cornell Cos. fell 43 percent Wednesday after the company disclosed it is reviewing its accounting of a real estate deal in August. Also Wednesday, Houston-based Cornell named Harry Phillips chairman, replacing Steve Logan, who remains president and chief executive officer. The special committee is reviewing whether the retainer amount paid by Cornell to the investment bank would reduce the previously established equity of the investment bank affiliate in Municipal Corrections Finance. If that happened, Municipal Corrections Finance's assets, liabilities and operating results would have to be reported as part of Cornell's financial statements going back to 2001's third quarter. (Houston Chronicle)

Crystal City
Bobby Ross Group
June 4, 2003
City librarian Annette Lehmann doesn't really mind the FBI agents and Texas Rangers using her conference room day after day for interviews, but she wishes they'd check in with her first. "It's during the day when there is really nothing going on, so it doesn't bother me. I'd just like to be told," she said. "The Texas Rangers wear guns. That's how you can tell them apart," she added. A little over a month after voters here gave the boot to a City Council faction that some accused of running the city like a totalitarian state, the winds of rumor and reform are both blowing hard. The Rangers and federal agents are busy trying to make sense of a $14 million detention centers purchase the old administration rushed through with great secrecy early this year. They also are following other money trails at City Hall and at the city's economic development corporation. The $14 million purchase of a pair of prison facilities from the Bobby Ross Group in Austin remains the big mystery. "We still don't know exactly where the money went," Mayor Raul Gomez said of the mammoth deal. "People are just waiting to find out what happened. It's like they say, 'I hope they (the investigators) don't find anything, but if they do, I hope something is done about it,'" he said. Both the FBI in Del Rio and District Attorney Roberto Serna in Eagle Pass have declined to discuss their investigations in Crystal City. Sources say that so far nearly a dozen people have been interviewed and numerous records have been subpoenaed. The sale was financed by high interest bonds sold without a referendum through a public facilities corporation, and the closing was at a title company in Austin. An enigmatic key figure in the detention centers deal was Mario Hernandez, 64, a former city councilman whose name is on the bronze dedication plaque on City Hall dated 1963. Hernandez earned thousands in Crystal City as a consultant to the economic development corporation for cheese factory and tire recycling deals that have yet to bear fruit. But when he hit the jackpot on the detention centers deal, he was working for someone else. Acting as a representative of the Bobby Ross Group, which sold the detention centers to the city, Hernandez made hundreds of thousands of dollars when the deal closed. "He was paid $300,000 when the bonds were sold," said Tim Kurpiewski, a Bobby Ross vice-president in Austin, who said Hernandez made additional money on the deal that he would not disclose. After the prison facilities were sold to the city, Hernandez sought to be hired to a $120,000-a-year city job overseeing the operating contract with Bobby Ross Group. However, since the change on the City Council, he has dropped out of view. Contacted by telephone this weekend, Hernandez declined to be interviewed. Hernandez's background is of special interest to authorities. In the early 1990s he served 32 months in federal prison for convictions in a credit card scam in Wisconsin and for harboring undocumented immigrants in San Antonio. In that case, authorities accused him of keeping Mexican immigrants locked in a shed on Rigsby Avenue and releasing them in the daytime to work as laborers. According to the Bexar County Sheriff's Department, Hernandez is wanted on an active misdemeanor warrant for theft of service under $500. Former Crystal City Mayor Frank Moreno, who last fall asked the FBI to look into the city government's activities, was elected to the council this spring. He said the outside probes are essential to clear the air. "The people are glad that finally some type of investigations are started, and they are definitely glad that both the FBI and the Rangers are involved," Moreno said. (San Antonio Express-News)

February 25, 2003
The forced removal of a council member from a City Council meeting has ignited a political battle over whether Crystal City's government is operating in the open. At the recent February meeting of the council, member Raul Gomez began questioning City Manager Eleazar Salinas about city expenditures. Mayor Jody Cerda told him he was out of order. "I was told by the mayor I should not be asking those questions, and I said, as a councilman, I have the right to ask about bills and invoices," Gomez told the San Antonio Express-News for a story in Monday's edition. Gomez refused to be silenced. "If someone from the public wants to talk about something, they need to give 10-day notice to the city manager, and if he thinks it's fit, he'll put it on the agenda," Gomez told the Express-News. The newspaper reported that Cerda's critics were worried by the recent sale of $14 million in bonds to buy two detention centers near Crystal City from the private company that operates them. It reported the council approved the deal with the Bobby Ross Group last month with almost no public comment or release of information. The council also turned away questions from the public. Gomez and Macias, who opposed the detention center deal, said they were given no information before the purchase. Even now, more than a month later, they said they haven't seen complete financial documentation. The purchase was done through a recently created, Cerda-led public facilities corporation that sold the high-interest bonds. Documents examined by the Express-News showed the facilities corporation paid $9 million for the centers, plus the surrounding 75 acres. The Zavala County appraiser values the centers at $6 million, the newspaper reported. The lease-purchase deal included a $1.1 million payment back to Crystal City, with $300,000 apparently going to the city and $800,000 to the city's economic development corporation - also led by Cerda, the newspaper reported. In a separate contract, the Bobby Ross Group will still operate the centers, with revenue generated by the centers going directly to pay down the bonds, the newspaper reported. (AP)

Dallas County Jail
Dallas, Texas
Aramark, Keefe, Mid-America
October 11, 2006 The Dallas Morning News
Dallas County commissioners voted Tuesday for the first time to award a jail commissary contract, ending a tradition in which the sheriff decided who gets the lucrative deal to sell snacks and other items to more than 7,000 inmates. The roughly $34 million, five-year contract awarded to Keefe Commissary Network is expected to generate more money for the county than the existing contract. County officials who didn't like how the former sheriff handled the awarding of the existing commissary contract moved to get state law changed last year to allow commissioners to decide the commissary vendor. The new law allows the sheriff to designate commissioners to decide the contract. Sheriff Lupe Valdez didn't want to be involved because of past problems, her spokesman has said. Keefe, a St. Louis company, estimated that annual revenue to the county based on sales of snacks, pens, toiletries, playing cards and other items would be about $2.6 million, which is almost four times what the current contractor provides. That contractor, Mid-America Services, was given the contract in 2002 by then-Sheriff Jim Bowles, who was a longtime friend of the owner, Jack Madera. At the time, commissioners complained that other companies offered better financial terms. Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield cast the sole vote against the contract award, saying Aramark offered a better value to the county. He said Aramark offered a slightly higher commission rate as well as $1 million in upfront money, to be paid out each year of the contract. But Commissioner John Wiley Price said Keefe guaranteed the county at least $2 million each year. "The numbers speak for themselves," he said. Mr. Mayfield also said Keefe did not disclose to the county its involvement in a federal corruption investigation in Florida involving a prison contract until after the Justice Department issued a news release about it in July. The county's request for proposals required such a disclosure. The former head of the Florida corrections department and a prison official were charged in July with accepting more than $130,000 in kickbacks from a Keefe subcontractor over two years in connection with a 2003 prison-store contract. "There's a lot of smoke there," Mr. Mayfield said. "I find it incredulous that Keefe did not know they were under investigation in 2004 and 2005." No knowledge: Keefe's chief executive wrote in a July 31 letter to purchasing supervisor Linda Boles that the company had no knowledge of illegal activity related to the case. In a Sept. 11 letter, U.S. Attorney Paul Perez in Florida wrote that Keefe and its employees are considered witnesses in the investigation but that could change. "Nothing in this letter ... shall preclude the United States from later determining that Keefe or any of its employees are subjects or targets of this investigation," he wrote. It isn't the only controversy in which the company has been involved. In 2004, Keefe was found to have charged sales tax on some items that aren't taxable in Texas in connection with a Collin County jail commissary contract. As a result, almost 600 inmates were overcharged more than $5,000, records showed. Because of the error, the Collin County sheriff awarded the contract to a different firm.

October 4, 2006 Dallas Morning News
Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the first phase of a plan to provide more clinical space inside the jail for inmate medical and mental health needs. The county's selection committee recommended that St. Louis-based Keefe Commissary Network be awarded the five-year contract to sell snacks, toiletries and other items to the more than 7,000 inmates. The company's bid calls for a 40 percent commission on sales or $2 million in guaranteed annual revenue for the county, whichever is greater. Revenue under the current vendor has averaged about $670,600 a year over the last three years, according to the county auditor. "It shows what can come from a very well-run procurement process," Mr. Clemson said. Keefe disclosed to the county that it currently is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over kickbacks its subcontractor is accused of paying to the former head of corrections in Florida in connection with a prison contract.

December 15, 2003
An investigation into the Dallas County sheriff and his dealings with a jail vendor has expanded to include three other North Texas counties that have contracts with the vendor, according to a published report. Court records obtained by the Dallas Morning News show that the campaign finance records of Denton County Sheriff Weldon Lucas were recently subpoenaed by Chris Milner, who is overseeing the probe of Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles. Officials in Tarrant and Nueces counties told the newspaper that Milner had also subpoenaed jail commissary and election records there. Milner is investigating whether Bowles improperly awarded the Sheriff Department's commissary contract to Jack Madera of Mid-America Services based on reports published by the newspaper in September. Milner, an assistant district attorney in Collin County, declined the newspaper's request for comment. Bowles accepted meals and travel expenses worth thousands of dollars from Madera from 1999 to 2001. In 2002 he awarded Madera the department's commissary contract even though other vendors offered higher commissions to the department. The sheriff said he repaid Madera for all expenses except the meals, but hasn't shown proof of those reimbursements. Lucas awarded Mid-America Denton County's jail commissary contract that same year under similar circumstances, the newspaper reported Thursday. (AP)

September 22, 2003
Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles accepted meals, airfare and hotel rooms worth thousands of dollars from commissary vendor Jack Madera in the two years before he awarded Madera's company a contract to sell goods in the jail, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. Bowles told the newspaper that he reimbursed Madera or his companies for any expenses except lunches. He said he didn't keep copies of checks that would show the reimbursement. "I don't keep copies of checks anticipating this," the sheriff said. "No one has ever questioned my integrity before." Bowles has occasionally acted on behalf of Madera, accompanying him on visits to solicit business from other sheriffs, according to interviews. At a fund-raiser for the sheriff last week, Madera declined to be interviewed. Bowles awarded the five-year contract to Mid-America Services Inc., Madera's company, in June 2002. The commissary sells snacks, soft drinks and other products to inmates. The department receives a portion of the $4 million in projected annual revenue to pay for some inmate programs and jail costs. Madera's bid was worth about $600,000 in annual revenue to the sheriff's department. Other bidders offered a minimum of $1 million, according to county records. After county commissioners criticized the deal, Bowles said he was friends with Madera. He later backed off that description and now says they interact only about business. Between October 1999 and November 2001, Madera paid for 72 meals totaling $3,698 at which Bowles or his top aide, Executive Chief Deputy Larry Forsyth, often were the only guests, according to financial records provided by Madera's former company. Madera paid $789 for airfare and hotels for Bowles to attend the 2000 and 2001 Sheriffs' Association of Texas conferences in Lubbock and Corpus Christi. Madera also paid $150 for plane tickets for Bowles' wife to attend the 2001 conference. Madera's new company advanced the sheriff $1,211 for airfare and registration for this year's National Sheriffs' Association annual conference in Nashville, Tenn., an expense the sheriff later reimbursed with campaign funds. The Morning News obtained Madera's expenses from Mid-States Services, one of the companies that Bowles passed up to award the commissary contract to Mid-America. Madera founded Mid-States almost 20 years ago and sold it in February 1999. John F. Sammons Jr., the chairman and chief executive officer of Mid-States, said he provided the records because they show that Bowles is too close to Madera. "Sheriff Bowles has never accepted one red cent from Jack Madera," said Clayton P. Henry, the sheriff's campaign consultant. "We consider this to be sour grapes on the part of John Sammons." Some officials said the sheriff has occasionally worked on behalf of Madera. In 1999, Bowles and Madera paid a visit to Travis County Sheriff Margo Frasier. "It was one of those kinds of deals where Jim was introducing me to Jack and saying Jack wanted to talk to me about my commissary business," Frasier said. "Jim Bowles was there for the introduction." (AP)

July 3, 2002
Several Dallas County commissioners accuse Sheriff Jim Bowles of awarding a $20 million jail commissary contract to a longtime friend over bidders who offered far better financial terms for the department. A five-year contract was awarded last month to Mid-America Services Inc., owned by Jack Madera, to sell pens, toothpaste, chips and other items to about 7,000 inmates at Dallas County jails. The contract would generate about $4 million a year, with $600,000 a year going to the Sheriff's Department starting July 15, according to county officials. But two of the unsuccessful bidders, Swanson Services Corp. and Mid-States Services Inc., said they offered to give the Sheriff's Department at least $1.2 million a year. He said Bowles, who has been in office 17 years, has a long relationship with Madera but showed "no favoritism whatsoever" in awarding the contract to his friend. Commissioners contend that Bowles, 73, has declined to turn over bid documents from the four vendors.

Danville Center for Adolescent Females
Danville, Texas
Cornell
August 8, 2005 Danville News
Texas-based Cornell Abraxas will not renew its contract with the state to provide youth treatment services at the Danville Center for Adolescent Females. The company has run the facility since 1998, but has chosen not to continue its management, citing a lack of infrastructure support.

DeWitt County Jail
Cuero, Texas
Keefe (formerly run by Aramark)
May 9, 2006 The Victoria Advocate
Bookkeeping problems in the DeWitt County Jail commissary should be a thing of the past now that the supplier and office policy have changed, Sheriff Jode Zavesky told county commissioners Monday. Zavesky said he had signed a contract earlier this month with Keefe Supply Company to supply and administer the jail's commissary. "Our last supplier (Aramark) kind of left us dangling," the sheriff said. "They said we were too small an operation and they weren't coming back." Commissioner Curtis Afflerbach asked if the problems with the system that the county auditor reported at the last court's meeting would be resolved with the new company. "We hope to reconcile that the best we can prior to this new contract," Zavesky said. "We've also implemented some changes with our staff that we hope will keep us from getting into the same problems."

Dickens County Correctional Facility
Spur, Texas
Bobby Ross Group
October 29, 1998
More than 17 months after a Montana inmate died from wounds suffered during a riot at the Dickens County Correctional Facility in Spur, his medical bills totaling nearly $60,000 are still unpaid, a lawsuit states. Montana inmate Neil Hage, 32, died May 16, 1997, at University Medical Center in Lubbock a week after he was injured in a prison riot between inmates from Montana and Hawaii. Now a lawsuit brought by University Medical Center alleges that former DCCF operator Bobby Ross Group has failed to pay the $59,480 bill despite promises to do so. But the May 9, 1997, riot at the Spur facility came at a time when Montana officials were about to pull their 220-plus inmates out of the prison. An audit performed by the Montana Department of Corrections in 1996 and 1997 made numerous claims of inadequacies at the facilities, including a lack of CPR and medical readiness in general. BRG agreed to terminate its contract with Dickens County in April after county officials opted to sell the prison to Florida-based Correction Service Corp., which now runs the facility. (Houston Chronicle)

Sept. 7, 1997
Montana inmates at a Texas prison go hungry and have to wait days for medical care, while the company running the prison continues to violate its $3.6 million-a-year contract with the state, an investigation by Montana corrections officials found. A report released Friday said the Dickens County Correctional Center, operated by the Bobby Ross Group, is not fully complying with 15 of 22 provisions of the state contract. Violations include food service medical care security, inmate transfers and disciplinary actions, according to the report. Dickens County has had problems since Montana inmates were sent there about a year ago. One inmate was killed in a May brawl, a near-riot had to be halted by gunfire from guards last fall, a warden was fired and two Montana escapees remain on the loose. Friday's report found that the company is complying with the contract in its education, treatment and drug-testing programs, providing jobs for inmates, keeping track of inmate funds, supplying medication to inmates and maintaining a set of medical policies. But the study was especially critical of food service at the Spur prison. (Houston Chronicle)

May 12, 1997
One inmate was released Sunday and two others remained hospitalized, one in critical condition, after a fight at a private prison in this Northwest Texas town. Officials at the Dickens County Correctional Center would not say whether the prison remained locked down Sunday, as has been the case since Friday night's uprising involving inmates from Montana, Colorado and Hawaii. As many as 100 inmates were in the prison's recreation yard when the fight began about 8:30 pm Friday. The fighting prisoners surrendered when guards approached them. (Houston Chronicle)

May 11, 1997
Three inmates were hospitalized, one with critical injuries, and their privately run prison remained locked down Saturday after a fight involving prisoners from Montana, Colorado and Hawaii. A total of seven inmates were hurt Friday night at the Dickens County Correctional Center. No weapons were recovered, and the victims apparently did not suffer gunshot or knife wounds, Dickens County Sheriff Ken Brendle said. Officials said 141 inmates were transferred in November 1996 from Colorado prisons to the correctional center to relieve crowding. To relieve crowding at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana sent 251 inmates to the prison last summer and has about that many there now. An August 1996 uprising began when about 120 inmates from Montana and Hawaii refused to begin work assignments or return to their barracks in a protest over medical care, food and strip searches. (Houston Chronicle)

Eagle Lake Juvenile Facility
Columbus, Texas
Correctional Services Corporation
November 29, 2005 Victoria Advocate
The Colorado County Commissioners Court has formed a committee to determine which of the county's taxing entities will be able to use the new voting machines for its elections. "We formed the committee to come up with an equitable system for all of the voting entities in the county to use the equipment," County Judge Al Jamison said after Monday's court meeting. "We've purchased 16 of the machines and have three cities and three school districts." "Now that the county is running the facility, the school district wanted the contract to be with us rather than Correctional Services Corporation," Jamison said. "The district operates an off-campus program at the juvenile facility with a principal and five teachers. That way the kids at the facility are not in an educational vacuum. For example, if they are in eighth grade, they follow an eighth grade course of learning at the facility."

East Hidalgo Detention Center
La Villa, Texas
Louisiana Correctional Service
October 23, 2006 Houston Chronicle
One of the five illegal immigrants who escaped from a privately run South Texas jail along with a former police officer surrendered to federal agents at a border checkpoint, officials said Monday. Joel Armando Mata-Castro, a 31-year-old Mexican citizen, walked up to the checkpoint Sunday night and identified himself to Customs and Border Protection officers, who identified him as a fugitive on federal escape charges, CBP spokesman Felix Garza said. Mata-Castro was being held at the Cameron County Jail. He's the only inmate captured after they escaped from the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa on Sept. 19 by overpowering a guard with a homemade knife and gaining access to several exit doors. Authorities have said they suspected the men had crossed the border into Mexico, about 20 miles away. The five illegal immigrants are alleged members of the drug gang Raza Unida. Former McAllen police officer Francisco Meza-Rojas, the supposed ringleader of the escapees, was two weeks away from trial on drug-trafficking charges.

October 11, 2006 The Monitor
The private prison from which six inmates escaped last month has repeatedly violated state standards, according to inspection reports from the Texas prison board. The most recent inspection, conducted eight days after the escape, cites the prison for employing too few guards, adding an unauthorized number of bunks and keeping unlicensed guards on the payroll. Since LCS Correctional Services took over the Eastern Hidalgo Detention Center in 2001, the prison has come out clean in only two of its annual inspections. LCS spokesman Richard Harbison said the violations were not intentional and that they had fixed all the problems. "We are back in compliance," he said. The latest infractions shed new light on the persistently troubled La Villa prison, which has struggled with staffing and inmate security for years. LCS President Patrick LeBlanc told The Monitor in previous interviews that the La Villa prison staffed enough guards, even though a U.S. Marshals spokesman said that was not the case. The state conducted an emergency review after last month’s escape, when an 18-year-old guard said he was overpowered by one of the inmates and stuffed into a closet. He has since been fired. That inspection cited the prison for a third time for not employing enough guards. The jail commission did not say in the documents what the actual ratio of guards to prisoner was. It also found several guards were working with expired licenses or no license at all. Harbison said the prison had a policy of not applying for licenses until guards completed two weeks of work. The warden didn’t want to waste the $100 application fee for a Texas jailer’s license until he knew guards would stay, he said. That practice has since stopped, he said. And since the emergency inspection the guards with expired licenses have been fired, he said.

October 5, 2006 The Monitor
Three people, including a guard, have been arrested in connection with the prison break in which six inmates escaped more than two weeks ago. Prison commissary officer Joseph Paul Llanos, Martin Angel Villarreal Jr., and Magdalena Peña, wife of one of the escapees, were arrested last week in connection with the escape from the Eastern Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa on Sept 19., according to court documents obtained Wednesday. The six inmates, including a former McAllen police officer accused of running a family drug smuggling ring, are still on the loose and are most likely hiding in Mexico, according to authorities. They are considered armed and dangerous. The five other inmates who escaped with the former police officer are repeat immigration offenders known as members of Raza Unida, a drug smuggling gang based out of Corpus Christi. Information compiled from the three criminal complaints recently filed in federal court paint two of the prisoners, Enrique Peña-Saenz, 38, and the former police officer, Francisco Meza-Rojas, 41, as planning the escape from the inside. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston would not comment on the case because the investigation is ongoing. But a spokesman for the company that runs the prison, LCS Correctional Services, said that Llanos knew at least one of the inmates before they were housed at La Villa. "One of our policies is that if a guard recognizes someone they know in the past they need to report it," said LCS spokesman Richard Harbison. Llanos had not reported knowing any of the inmates, he said. But under questioning after the escape, Llanos admitted to U.S. Marshals that two weeks before the escape he smuggled a cell phone and charger to Meza-Rojas, according to a criminal complaint. Some time after, Llanos smuggled in a pair of pliers that he handed to Meza-Rojas, according to the complaint. Those pliers were later used to cut through at least three fences, including an electrified one that someone had turned off, though the complaint didn’t specify who may have done that. By the time the six inmates had reached the fences, they had subdued 18-year-old prison guard Enrique Zepeda and stuffed him in a closet. Once they made it outside, they split up into at least three groups after crossing a levee east of the prison. Search dogs traced the inmates’ scent to State Highway 107, which runs east of the prison. Meza-Rojas used the cell phone that had been smuggled in to him to arrange someone to pick him up at the highway, according to the complaint. "Everything points that these guys are in Mexico," said Joe Magallan, the U.S. Marshal’s McAllen-based spokesman. "These guys are too scared to be crossing back into the United States." Marshals immediately began investigating Villarreal after the prison break because three of his business cards had been found in the eight-man pod where the six inmates where held. One of the cards had Enrique Peña’s name and home phone number on it. Villarreal, according to the complaint, had visited Peña in prison two weeks before the escape and listed himself as Peña’s compadre in the log book. Marshals believe he delivered the cell phone, wire cutters and $200 to Llanos during two different visits to the prison, the last one in August. Llanos was arrested Sept. 23, and Villarreal on Sept. 25. They were each charged with aiding and abetting Meza-Rojas’ escape. It wasn’t clear why they were not charged in connection with the other prisoners’ escapes. As for Peña’s wife, Magdalena, she told U.S. Marshals her husband told of her of the escape plans some time in August. He told her someone would give her $100 so she could pay the man who would smuggle in the cell phone. She met an unknown older white man later that day in Mission in front of Foy’s Supermarket. He handed her $100 and instructed her to give the money to Villarreal. Magdalena Peña was also arrested Sept. 25. She was also only charged with aiding and abetting Meza-Rojas’ escape. The other inmates are Fernando Garza-Cruz, 20; Joel Armando Mata-Castro, 31; Vicente Mendiola-Garcia, 34; and Saul Leonardo Salazar-Aguirre, 24. LCS Correctional Services has made a series of personnel changes since the escape. Zepeda, the young guard who the inmates overpowered, was fired for not following policy, Harbison said. The prison spokesman said Zepeda opened a control room door, unwittingly letting the six inmates escape. He has not been criminally charged, though, and the company believes he did not know of the plot. Zepeda, who was employed shortly after his high school graduation three months before, had undergone on-the-job training but had not attended mandatory training at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Academy. New guards must take the course within a year of hire. Harbison said there are at least 20 other employees, 13 percent of all La Villa guards, at the prison who are like Zepeda and have yet to undergo the academy training. The company has closed its investigation and is now implementing a series of security policy changes, he said. The chief of security at the prison was also demoted, he said.

September 23, 2006 KRIS TV
A control box for the electrical fence surrounding a private jail was tampered with before six federal inmates escaped this week and may have kept the alarm from sounding, an official with the company that runs the jail said Friday. Richard Harbison, co-owner of LCS Corrections Services Inc., of Lafayette, La., said an internal investigation revealed tampering with an outside control box. He also said there were wiring problems with a control box inside the East Hidalgo Detention Center. Meanwhile, two employees were placed on paid leave pending the investigation into Tuesday night's escape of a former police officer facing drug charges and five alleged members of a drug gang. All six remained at large Friday.

September 23, 2006 The Monitor
The 18-year-old guard overseeing the six inmates who escaped from the local prison Tuesday had been on the job less than three months and had not yet undergone a training course mandated for Texas jailers. Enrique Zepeda was one of 27 guards on duty Tuesday night when the six inmates threatened him with a foot-long homemade knife, tied him up and stuffed him in a closet. They then escaped through several inside doors and layers of outside fencing to make their way out of the prison complex. The escapees, who included five prison gang members and a former McAllen police officer accused of running a drug smuggling ring, were still on the loose Friday. Zepeda — who began work at the Eastern Hidalgo County Detention Center this summer just after his high school graduation — was slated to attend the next round of training at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Academy, said Richard Harbison, a spokesman for the company that runs the private prison. The Texas Commission on Jails gives guards a year after their hiring date to complete the training, which at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Academy lasts three weeks. As is standard for all guards, Zepeda spent two weeks shadowing a more experienced officer when he first began at the prison, Harbison said. Michael Gilbert, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Texas-San Antonio, called formal guard training key to prison security. “The training is critical. The lack of training, it presents a clear liability for the organization.” Publicly run prisons are exempt from lawsuits claiming negligence for failure to adequately train prison staff, but private facilities have no such protections, Gilbert said. Harbison, the prison spokesman, said Zepeda’s injuries had not been serious enough to warrant medical treatment. “When we have a guard that’s in that situation — that’s the first thing we check,” he said of injuries sustained during prison breaks. “But we have to move forward with an investigation.” LCS has had ample experience with such situations. According to the Texas Commission on Jails, the company’s Brooks County Detention Center has had two escapes in four years — one in 2002 and another in 2005. The La Villa facility had two escapes in 2000, while it was owned by a different company. But in September 2005, when under LCS management, a prisoner escaped from the parking lot of the McAllen Medical Center after he convinced guard he needed medical attention at the hospital. Another inmate tried the same trick on Wednesday, when he jumped out of an ambulance headed for that same hospital. Hoping to avert any more security breaches, LCS has begun work on a new fence to surround the entire complex and is installing an outside camera system. Both will likely be complete within 10 days, Harbison said on Friday.

September 21, 2006 The Monitor
Prison and law enforcement authorities were investigating Wednesday whether a guard or other staffer at the La Villa detention facility may have helped the six federal inmates who escaped late Tuesday night. The six escapees were housed in a single cell in a minimum-to-medium security building, even though five of them were known to be members of a Corpus Christi-based prison gang known as La Raza Unida, according to local and federal officials. They broke out Tuesday at about 9:45 p.m. by threatening a guard with a homemade knife and then cutting a hole in the electric fence outside. They were still on the loose as of Wednesday night and considered armed and dangerous. Michael Hallett, chairman of the criminal justice department at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. and an expert on privately-run prisons, said such facilities face a greater risk of inmates escaping because they are typically understaffed and pay low salaries in order to make profits. These working conditions make for high staff turnover rates, he said. “So, you have poorly trained guards who are too few in number and who are very inexperienced — and that combination of factors makes them susceptible not just to corruption, but also to coercion by the inmates inside,” Hallett said. “That sounds like an inside job,” Hallett said of the circumstances surrounding this week’s escape in La Villa.

September 21, 2006 San Antonio Express-News
The young guard who said he was overpowered by federal inmates at a Valley detention center was one of two employees put on paid leave Thursday as officials investigate how six men escaped. Enrique Zepeda, 18, who has been on the job for three months, said the escape started late Tuesday with a decoy. "They were distracting me to put my guard down for a moment and it worked," he said. A spokesman for Lafayette, La.-based LCS Corrections Services Inc., which owns and operates the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa, confirmed that Zepeda and one other employee were put on paid administrative leave Thursday. All employees will be questioned, said McAllen-based spokesman for the U.S. Marshals, Jose Magallan Jr. "We are looking at all avenues, we are looking to see if it was an inside job," he said.

September 21, 2006 Houston Chronicle
Not enough officers were on duty at a privately owned federal jail when an ex-police officer charged with drug trafficking led five other inmates in a daring escape Tuesday night, a federal marshal overseeing the investigation said Wednesday. The six men broke out of the East Hidalgo Detention Center at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday after using a footlong knife made of plastic to overpower a guard. They managed to get through four jail doors before using bolt cutters or wire snips to cut through two fences. Teams of federal agents and Rio Grande Valley police using helicopters, horses and tracking dogs searched for the escapees late Wednesday but had not found any of them. ''The way we see it, there is lack of security there right now," said Joe Magallan, a deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service. ''There are a lot of safety issues pertaining to that. There's just not enough personnel. More security officers and more detention officers, should be placed there."

September 20, 2006 The Monitor
Federal and local authorities are still looking for six men who escaped from a federal prison last night. The men escaped from the East Hidalgo Detention Center around 9:40 p.m. Tuesday by holding a foot-long, homemade knife to the neck of a prison guard, U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Joe Magallan said. They then tied up the guard and locked him in a room before escaping through the backdoor of the building and using wire cutters to detach an electric fence from the anchor holding it to the ground, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said. Someone had evidently de-electrified the fence beforehand, Treviño said. The guard was unharmed. The men had been housed in a minimum to medium security building within the prison complex, said Richard Harbison, a spokesman for LCS Correctional Services, the company that runs the private facility. Harbison said this is the first escape from the facility since LCS took it over from the former management company in 2001. That company had gone bankrupt. Treviño stopped short of calling the escape an inside job but said the circumstances were dubious. “From a law enforcement perspective, it appears to be highly suspicious,” he said.

East Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility
Longview, Texas
Management &Training Corporation
September 30, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
In other business Thursday, county commissioners allowed the sheriff to move forward with plans to convert the Marvin A. Smith Regional Juvenile Center to the Marvin A. Smith Criminal Justice Center. With the county's jail population hovering around capacity, the county plans to take the already-closed juvenile facility and turn it into a low-risk adult detention facility in April. He also said after the meeting that Management and Training Corp., which leases a total of 300 beds in the county's jail, has been put on verbal notice that the county currently is not in a position to renew its contract, which expires in February 2007. The sheriff said officials are working with the company on finding a new place to house those inmates when that time comes.

Ector County Correctional Center
Odessa, Texas
CiviGenics
September 24, 2003
Promising to increase Ector County’s 2003-’04 revenues from jail inmates’ telephone calls by at least $100,000, a Carrollton company was awarded a one-year contract Monday by the county commissioners court. T-Netix salesman Hank Schopfer was among representatives of a half-dozen companies that made pitches at the 10 a.m. Monday meeting. Brad Jones made a pitch for the former contractor, Inmate Communications of Midland. Commissioners decided at an August budget workshop to re-bid the contract, noting that 2002-’03 revenues from charges assessed to people called by inmates at the County Law Enforcement Center and federal detainees at the private Civigenics jail in the courthouse had failed to meet expectations. Auditor David Austin reported then that phone revenues would only total about $200,000. (Odessa American)

April 12, 2002
Officials were still trying to determine Thursday whether tire failure or driver fatigue caused a van wreck west of Pcos that killed two prison inmates and injured 12 people Wednesday afternoon. The van was carrying 13 U.S. Marshals Service prisoners from El Paso to the Ector County Correctional Center in Odessa, said Jim Shaw, regional director for CiviGenics, the company that operates the detention center. Although law enforcement officials said the driver became fatigued and drifted off the road, CiviGenics officials said Wednesday that the van rolled after the right front tire blew out. Jack Dean, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas, said in a news release that "tire failure was not the primary cause." (El Paso Times)

April 11, 2002
At least two people were killed and 12 were injured Wednesday when a U.S. Marshals Service van carrying 13 prisoners and two guards rolled off Interstate 10 west of Pecos. The van was carrying federal prisoners from El Paso to the all-male Ector County Correctional Center in Odessa, Texas, when it crashed about 2:30 p.m. Investigators said they believed the driver of the van was tired and allowed the vehicle to drift off the road and strike a guardrail before the van rolled down a 10-foot regional director for CiviGenics, the company that owns the van and operates the detention center in Ector, said the accident occurred when "the right front tire blew out on the van." (El Paso Times)

Eden Detention Center
Eden, Texas
CCA
May 21, 2003
The parents of a former Eden Detention Center inmate have filed a lawsuit against the privately operated prison, claiming their son died after mental abuse that included withholding a special diet for his medical condition. The wrongful death suit, filed by Conrado Mestas and Rafaela Ochoa Mestas of El Paso, seeks more than $50,000 in damages and was filed just a few days before a two-year statute of limitations expired, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported in Tuesday editions. Conrado Mestas Ochoa was found dead in his cell on May 20, 2001, according to the suit. The family said the inmate suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, metabolic derangement and a skin disorder. He had been in the detention center since April. Lee McDaniel, the center's public information officer, declined to comment on the case to the newspaper, referring questions to Corrections Corporation of America. A CCA spokesman in Nashville, Tenn., did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Monday night. Eden Detention Center is about 35 miles southeast of San Angelo. (AP)

May 5, 2003
Officials at a privately operated West Texas detention center are investigating the cause of a fray that injured at least 15 inmates. Officials with Corrections Corporation of America said the altercation happened Thursday night at the Eden Detention Center, about 35 miles southeast of San Angelo. The unit remained locked down on Friday. (AP)

August 23, 1996
A daylong riot in which shotgun-toting guards clashed with 400 boisterous prisoners at a privately run federal detention center in West Texas has renewed questions about how well such prisons are operated and monitored. A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said the bureau will review the way the disturbance was handled by CCA's security force. At least 17 people were hurt in the riot, which began shortly before noon Wednesday and ended about 2 am Thursday. Guards fired buckshot into the ground and released pepper gas to quell the disturbance, which reportedly began as a protest against poor food, inadequate recreation and other prison conditions. One guard suffered a broken jaw after he was hit by a rock thrown by an inmate. The detention center is a "low-security" facility reserved for non-U.S. citizens who have less than three years to serve. Most, Tracey said, will be deported upon completion of their terms. The disturbance began about 11 am Wednesday when hundreds of inmates conducted a sit-in rather than respond to morning roll call. After negotiations between prison officials and the inmates failed, rowdiness among prisoners increased. Some threw rocks and other items at security guards. Guards discharged pepper gas and fired shotguns into the ground as inmates stormed a fence in an apparent effort to escape. Two inmates underwent surgery to remove buckshot that reportedly ricocheted. As the day wore on - temperatures topped 90 degrees - several guards required treatment for heat injuries and inmates pleaded for water. As prison guards sought to bring the riot under control, about two dozen state troopers and Texas Rangers stood by. A Department of Public Safety helicopter patrolled the area searching for possible escapees. (Houston Chronicle)

El Paso County Jail
El Paso, Texas
Prison Health Services
May 24, 2006 KTSM
Sheriff deputies tell us 47-year old Mario Lopez was arrested today, charged with violating the civil rights of a inmate and having improper sexual activity with a person in custody. The Sheriff's Office say the investigation started after an inmate complained about Lopez. He is now in the County Jail under a $50,000 bond. The Sheriff's Office says Lopez is an employee of Prison Health Services, which is under a contract with El Paso County to provide medical services to prisoners at the jail.

Fillyaw Correctional Facility
Newton County, Texas
Bobby Ross Group
Sept. 2, 1997
Two inmates serving time for car theft and forgery were back in custody Sunday after escaping from a privately run prison in Newton County near the Louisiana border. The private prison, operated by the Bobby Ross Group Inc., is the same unit where another inmate escaped last year, kidnapped a woman and took her at knifepoint to the Mexican border. The prison increased security measures after the Feb. 14, 1996, escape of Larry Earl Pagan of Hawaii, who scaled an 8-foot perimeter fence topped with razor wire.

Frio County Detention Center
Frio County, Texas
CSC
March 12, 2005 Express-News
An alleged member of the Mexican Mafia who was part of a jailbreak last summer at the Frio County Jail pleaded guilty Friday to escape. Reymundo Alaniz Flores - one of five inmates who escaped - entered the plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo in San Antonio. The escape occurred Aug. 6 at the privately run jail in Pearsall that used to house federal inmates. Authorities allege Robert Lee Jack and Randy Wayne Folsom helped the escape by cutting a hole in a perimeter fence, supplying wire cutters to the inmates and driving them away.

January 21, 2005 Express-News
A San Antonio man admitted Thursday that he helped five federal inmates escape from Frio County Jail last summer. At a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Mathy, Robert Lee Jack, 32, pleaded guilty to instigating and assisting the Aug. 6, 2004, escape. Jack admitted he went to the privately run jail in Pearsall the day of the escape and tossed a pair of bolt cutters over a perimeter fence to an inmate. Jack also admitted cutting a hole in an outside fence. He faces up to five years in prison when he's sentenced May 12. Two of the inmates remain at large.

October 13, 2004 Houston Chronicle
Two federal inmates who escaped from a South Texas detention facility in August were captured Wednesday near Laredo, officials said. The men were among five inmates who fled a Frio County lockup Aug. 6, possibly with the help of the Mexican Mafia. One of the escapees was caught shortly after the escape. The two who remain on the loose are presumed to be in South Texas, officials said. The "Frio Five" were able to flee the jail through holes cut in security fences, possibly with outside assistance. An investigation continues into whether they had inside help.

August 13, 2004 Express-News
Federal authorities are hoping $50,000 will persuade someone to give up the whereabouts of five inmates who escaped last week from the privately operated Frio County Jail. LaFayette Collins, U.S. marshal for the Western District of Texas, said at a news conference today that it is offering rewards of $10,000 apiece for information leading to the recapture of the former jail residents, who slipped to freedom Aug. 6 through holes cut in two perimeter fences. Collins also said the escape probe continues, including interviewing — and re-interviewing - jail guards to see what they know. No determination has been made on whether the inmates — who are said to have ties to the Texas Mexican Mafia gang — had help inside or outside the lockup, or both. "We suspect everything and everybody at this point," Collins said. Meanwhile, the Sarasota, Fla.-based company that runs the jail under contract, Correctional Services Corp., has refused to publicly explain the foul-up, ordering its local officials to turn down media interviews and not returning numerous calls seeking comment.

August 11, 2004
The U.S. Marshals Service has withdrawn 240 inmates from a privately run jail near San Antonio after the escape last week of five federal prisoners. The escape happened just five weeks after the Frio County Detention Center in Pearsall was ruled noncompliant with state regulations because of overcrowding and understaffing. "The reason they were moved is the U.S. Marshals Service had security concerns," said John D. Butler, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Texas. "Five prisoners escaped at one time, and that's the second jail break they've had within the past year." Four of the five inmates were born in Mexico. The fifth, Reymundo Flores Alaniz, was born in Texas but is said to be a high-ranking member of the Mexican Mafia and has been convicted of murder. They are all considered armed and dangerous, authorities said. The 240 federal prisoners were removed from the 390-bed jail Saturday. They were moved to several facilities throughout the region. The firm that runs the jail – Correctional Services Corp. of Sarasota, Fla. – responded Tuesday by laying off 35 of the jail's 58 employees, said Pearsall Mayor Roland Segovia.

August 11, 2004
The first round of layoffs began Tuesday at the privately run Frio County Jail in the wake of last week's broad daylight escape of five federal inmates. Jose "Nacho" Hernandez, a former detention officer, said his son, Joel, and a friend were among those who lost their jobs. He said he didn't know how many detention officers received letters Tuesday notifying them of the layoffs. But up to 30 employees are expected to be laid off, County Judge Carlos Garcia said Tuesday. Garcia said representatives with Correctional Services Corp. advised him the cutbacks were necessary after the U.S. Marshals Service withdrew its remaining 240 inmates from the jail over the weekend, citing security concerns. The five inmates that escaped Friday remained on the loose Tuesday. (Express-News)

August 10, 2004
Big changes at the Frio County Jail, as hundreds of inmates are shipped out. They were sent to another facility just one day after five convicts escaped from the jail, and more changes could be on the way. "What are we waiting for are. Are we waiting for one of these persons to go into one of these homes and kill somebody?," said Mayor Roland Segovia. The mayor of Pearsall is concerned about the company that runs the Frio County Jail. Segovia says Correction Services Corporation out of Florida is a good company but, "having six breakouts in the past eight years and only catching one of the 15 that have escaped, that's pretty scary," said Segovia. He says on Saturday about 200 jail inmates were shipped to another jail. "We stand at only about 40 inmates in the Frio County Jail," said Segovia. Segovia also says he's heard dozens of Frio County CSC employees are being laid off as operations are scaled back. "To lose 75 people in a matter of two or three days that's a lot," said Segovia. (WOAI.com)

August 8, 2004
After the fifth breakout at Frio County Jail in the past eight years, nearby residents reacted Saturday with a mix of anger and indifference to the rash of escapes. Five inmates cut through two fences and walked away from the jail at about 1 p.m. Friday, before a massive nine-hour manhunt came up empty and was called off due to darkness, rain and thick brush in the area. Since the start of 1996, 14 inmates have escaped from the jail in five incidents. On Saturday afternoon, a bus from the LaSalle County Detention Center in Cotulla was at the Pearsall jail to transfer some of the federal inmates out of the Frio County facility. Jail officials declined to provide details on the number of inmates being sent to LaSalle County. Some nearby residents complained because they didn't learn of the escape for hours. Like many Pearsall residents, Judy Stacy, who lives two blocks from the jail, was incredulous after another escape. "It's absurd," she said. "How could you cut two holes through the fences and just walk out? Don't they have people watching them?" Nell Youngblood lives a block from the jail, but did not hear about the escape for more than two hours. Then her husband locked all the doors and all but one window. (Express-News)

August 6, 2004
Five federal prisoners escaped today from a privately run lockup near San Antonio, according to the Frio County Sheriff's Department. Spokesman John Butler said the escape from a Correctional Services Corp. facility in Pearsall occurred around 1 p.m. He said the prisoners were in the custody of the Marshal's Service office in Laredo, which uses the lockup under contract. Butler, based in San Antonio, said a headcount was under way this afternoon to determine who was missing and how dangerous they might be. Investigators were also trying to determine how the prisoners got away, though Butler said witnesses reported seeing them crawling under perimeter fences. (AP)

September 10, 2003
Law officers continued searching today for two federal inmates who escaped from a South Texas lockup. The prisoners, both Mexican nationals, were reported missing late Monday morning from the Frio County Detention Center. Jorge Perez Delgado, 45, and 29-year-old Oscar Herrada Herrera were held on federal drug charges out of Laredo, said David Sligh, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Texas. Wanted posters for the men were released late Tuesday afternoon. Authorities suspect at least one of the inmates may be headed for Mexico. The U.S. Marshals Service said no one was harmed during the escape and there were no signs of a forced exit. The inmates were last accounted for inside the jail at 9 a.m. Monday, but were missing when the next count was conducted two hours later, Sligh said. He said investigators who followed up on "some good leads" Tuesday believed Herrada could be headed to Mexico because his last known address was in Nuevo Laredo. Herrada, serving a 37-month sentence on a probation violation, was originally convicted of heroin possession. Perez, whose last known address was in Chicago, was awaiting sentencing on possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Frio County Sheriff Lionel Trevino referred questions about the escape from the privately run detention center to the Marshals Service, which was leading the investigation. Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. operates the 391-bed detention center that houses city, county and federal inmates. (AP)

August, 1999
Two inmates escaped by digging a hole behind the toilet in their prison cell continue to elude authorities. They crawled from the hole onto an unguarded walkway and then slipped out of the building through an unsecured back door. (Express-News, August 30, 1999)

September 21, 1996
Prison board Chairman Allan Polunsky ordered Friday that a private prison company be billed the $2,140 it cost the state to send 23 guards to help quell a convict "standoff" that turned out to be a false alarm. "It concerns me that our staff was called when public safety was not in imminent jeopardy," Polunsky said of the incident that occurred Wednesday at the Frio Detention Center in Pearsall. The facility is a county jail operated by Dove Development Corp., a Texas company based in Crystal City. Among its prisoners are 100 state felons from Missouri and Utah who are being housed there because of crowding in their home state prisons. (Houston Chronicle)

Galveston County Jail
Galveston, Texas
Correctional Medical Services
January 20, 2006 Texas City Sun
Two county jailers have been suspended, while a third jail employee was fired after an investigation into an inmate’s suicide in November. Sheriff Gean Leonard declined Thursday to give the name of the woman who was fired because she was an employee of the company Correctional Medical Services, not the sheriff’s office. The company could not be reached for comment Thursday. Deputies Louis Padric Heck and Kendra Harris were suspended for five days without pay. John Louis Kenney hanged himself in his county jail cell on Nov. 20. Hours earlier, he had been booked into the jail on a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a domestic dispute. Kenney, who hanged himself with a belt deputies had returned to him earlier that night, had tried suicide in jail once before.

Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility
Post, Texas
Management and Training Corporation
January 17, 2001
Sixteen federal prisoners confined to the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility in Post filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday alleging violation of due process and their civil rights. The inmates, all immigrant aliens in the United States, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Lubbock. Management and Training Corporation runs the private prison, which contracts with the federal government to house inmates. The lawsuit claims that Dalby inmate receive inadequate medical care, food, rehabilitation programs and legal supplies, among other complaints. The plaintiffs seek that the Dalby prison be closed and permanently barred from operating as a federal prison. (The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

August 1, 2000
A corrections officer suffered a concussion in a riot early Sunday morning at a medium-security prison in Post after being struck by an object thrown by an inmate, a county judge Giles Dalby said Monday. He said the riot started on "Main Street," a wide outdoor sidewalk area that splits the facility's two holding areas. According to Dalby, about 500 inmates gathered on the sidewalk at about 8:30 pm. Saturday and began loitering and making demands to the correction officers. "The officers were able to talk them down to about 250 inmates," Dalby said. "When the officers told them to lock up at around 12:30 am, some obeyed and some didn't. A crowd of about 10 inmates stayed in the area." The inmates then began to break wooden picnic tables and set them on fire. They also pulled gutters off the side of the building and damaged seven surveillance cameras, Dalby said. "That is when we pulled our people back to safety and called the safety response team," Dalby said. According to Dalby, the number of inmates involved in the riot swelled to about 200 as the mayhem continued. The facility's response team was called in at about 1:45 am Sunday and dispersed the crowd in 9 minutes using tear gas, Dalby said. Dalby did not have an exact figure but estimated the damage to the facility to be sizable. (The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

Harris County Schools
Harris County, Texas
Brown Schools
April 12, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A Harris County program that provides schools for 1,200 juvenile offenders and youths expelled from their home schools will continue to operate despite the bankruptcy of the company that runs it, a county official said Tuesday. Harvey Hetzel, director of the county's Juvenile Probation Department, told Commissioners Court that the county can temporarily take over management of the program if necessary. Brown Schools Inc. teaches about 600 youths in schools at the county's six detention facilities. It also runs a two-campus, state-mandated program for about 600 students expelled by local school districts. The Austin-based company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy March 25. Brown Schools runs boarding schools and educational facilities for youths in Texas, California, Florida, Idaho and Vermont. Brown officials didn't return calls. Brown Schools' methods have drawn criticism from state regulators and resulted in lawsuits against it, the Austin-American Statesman reported. Hetzel said he did not believe that any of the six legal settlements that led to $425,000 in unsecured claims listed in the bankruptcy filing stemmed from Brown School's operations in Harris County. Most of the lawsuits were brought by former residents of the company's residential treatment programs, not their school operations, Hetzel said.

Holden Wal-Mart
Holden, Texas
Group 4
August 28, 2006 Tyler Morning Telegraph
Just days before jury selection was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Wal-Mart settled a wrongful death lawsuit for an undisclosed amount with the parents of Megan LeAnn Holden, a clerk who was kidnapped from the Tyler supercenter's parking lot and murdered. Attorneys for Ms. Holden's parents, Sheri Kay Dunlap and James Vincent Holden, said the terms of the Wal-Mart settlement were confidential. The Wackenhut Corp, which provided security for the store, was also named in the lawsuit and settled for $1.3 million, according to court records. Ms. Dunlap, "would like to see this as a beginning to Wal-Mart making its parking lots safer for its customers and employees, not just in Tyler, but everywhere," said her attorney, John "Rusty" Phenix, of Henderson. Jury selection for the case was scheduled to begin in U.S. District Judge T. John Ward's Marshall court Tuesday, but, on Friday, Phenix sent a letter to the court announcing the sealed settlement. Attorney Randell "Randy" Roberts, of Tyler, said his client, Holden, was "very glad to have this entire matter behind him." Ms. Holden was abducted Jan. 19, 2005, from the Wal-Mart Supercenter by Johnny Lee Williams Jr., who pleaded guilty last year to capital murder - kidnapping, sexually assaulting, strangling and shooting to death Ms. Holden to death before he allegedly discarded her body in a West Texas ditch. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was sentenced to five stacked life sentences. Surveillance footage released by law enforcement showed Williams following Ms. Holden to her pickup in the Wal-Mart parking lot, rushing up behind her, shoving her into the vehicle and driving off. Before the abduction, the video showed a security guard talking to the suspect.

Hood County Juvenile Detention Center
Hood County, Texas
Management and Training Corporation
February 1, 2006 Hood County News
The now abandoned county juvenile detention center drew attention from two county judge candidates at the political forum Monday night for candidates in the March 7 Republican primary. Precinct 2 county commissioner Charles Baskett placed the blame on county judge Andy Rash for the loss of $837,00 in operating expenses at the juvenile detention center (JDC). Rash countered that the county inherited the JDC problem and took action to try and protect their credit rating. In addition to Baskett and incumbent judge Rash, former Granbury mayor Rick Frye is also seeking election to the position of county judge. Baskett said the juvenile detention center was built by an outside contractor, who then leased the facility to the county. The county then sub-leased the facility to MTC, the company that ran the facility as a JDC for about a year. “At the end of a year, they had lost $1.2 million. They (MTC) cancelled their lease with the county and left town,” Baskett said. “I tried to find someone to come back in to run the facility as a JDC. No one was interested. They couldn’t make the numbers work. “Then the juvenile board came up with a budget, and it was put on the commissioners’ court agenda to determine whether Hood County should run the facility.” Baskett contends the center was supposed to be run by a private enterprise, and that the county had no business getting involved in managing the center. “It was a 3-2 vote to run the center on our own. We had no obligation to do it,” Baskett said. “We ran it for a few months and lost $837,000 before we had to discontinue. We held the lease. We could have given it up. “They said they were worried about losing our bond rating, and that’s why we should continue to operate the facility. We lost it (bond rating) anyway. “We should have never tried to run that facility ourselves. Now our bond rating is BBB.” “Had we terminated our lease and not attempted to operate, both Standard and Poor, and Moody threatened to lower our bond rating to BBB-,” he said.

Horizon Detention Complex (Intermediate Sanction Facility & Multipurpose Facility)
Horizon City, Texas
Avalon
April 17, 2003
A proposal to replace sex offenders with other inmates at the El Paso Multi-Use Facility in Horizon City was met with outrage by the community at a public meeting Wednesday evening. Next year, Avalon would like to change the terms of the contract and stop housing paroled sex offenders, in favor of pre-parolees of various backgrounds. "Even murderers?" exclaimed Horizon resident Brenda Carroll. "When they started, we were told it was going to be white-collar crimes; not it's sex offenders and, what? Murderers? Our kids are the ones playing hide-and-seek around here." (El Paso Times)

March 9, 2002
The El Paso County Sheriff's Department responded to a call of a possibly dangerous escaped prisoner in Horizon City Thursday night, but deputies had to wait about 45 minutes before prison officials would give them useful information to start a manhunt, the Sheriff's Department said. He said he understood that if prison officials suspect that a prisoner has escaped, they first follow prison procedures before contacting the Sheriff's Department. But in this case, he said, someone in the prison called the Sheriff's Department before the prison was ready to give information to the deputies. When deputies arrived, they had to wait for the prison to finish its escapee procedure. "A whole 45 minutes went by before we could do our jobs," Apodaca said. Southern Corrections, a subsidiary of Avalon Correctional Services of Oklahoma City, runs the Intermediate Sanction Facility under contract with the West Texas Community Supervision and Corrections Department. (El Paso Times)

September 3, 2001
Few people can blame Horizon City residents for being concerned about safety in the wake of two inmate escapes in June. The company in charge of these private facilities is challenged to assuage resident's fears with an improved safety performance. The two facilities near Horizon are privately operated. The jury is still out on the state's, and in fact the nation's, experiment with private companies operating prisons and detention facilities. In the bigger picture, taxpayers are left to wonder if these facilities truly are as secure as state-operated prisons. (El Paso Times)

August 29, 2001
When two men escaped within one week in June from the private detention centers near Horizon City, officials said both were freak incidents in a well-run system. But several former inmates of both centers, one a combination minimum-security prison and halfway house for parole violators and one a guarded halfway house for probation violators, said escapes were commonplace and just one of many problems. During their incarceration, they said, escaping was easy, as residents took advantage of guard staffing shortages and the centers' reliance on security cameras to slip away undetected. Avalon arrived in Horizon City in the early 1990s, part of the trend to shift responsibility for inmates from public to private prisons. By cutting back on staff pay rates or replacing positions with surveillance equipment, the private prisons were able to cut the costs of housing residents. As residents lined up for their medication or meals, they would pass time by studying the televisions that displayed the camera footage used in lieu of live guards. Residents quickly discovered the dead spots that surveillance cameras did not cover, Estes and other former residents said. Allegations of intimidation from gangs, mistreatment by guards and a lack of response to the complaints filed about such issues were among the list of residents' complaints. Residents attributed most of the problems to a staff they called inexperienced and underpaid. County probation officials, who pay the centers to house some of their probation violators, acknowledged that the $7-an-hour rate for guards leads to frequent turnover and constant retraining. Avalon officials acknowledged the high turnover rate, Smith said. But before the company can increase guard pay, the facilities have to increase occupancy rates to become more profitable. "That's just something a private company is going to have to deal with," Smith said. "They won't be able to pay what states do. We save taxpayers money by charging lower per diem." (El Paso Times)

June 28, 2001
Two men escaped from a Horizon minimum-security detention complex within the past three days -- one after climbing a wall and separating razor wire with his bare hands, the second by simply walking away. The first escapee, Floyd Ray Smith Jr., escaped Monday and was arrested Wednesday in his hometown of Kerrville, Texas, about 500 miles away. The second escapee, Lloyd Jacquez, left the detention complex shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday and was still missing. The escapees were residents of a pair of minimum-security detention facilities on Horizon Boulevard a few miles outside the limits of Horizon City. One of the buildings is the Intermediate Sanction Facility and home to about 100 probation violators. Next door is the Multipurpose Facility, which houses 229 parole violators, including 26 sex offenders. Southern Corrections, a subsidiary of Avalon Correctional Services of Oklahoma City, runs both facilities under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the El Paso Probation Department. Smith had about eight hours to get away before facility officials noticed his absence during a head count conducted about 2 p.m., Lopez said. Six hours later, shortly after 8 p.m., complex officials notified the Sheriff's Department. Private detention complexes usually do not notify local officials immediately when inmates escape, as opposed to escapees from public prisons, officials of the Sheriff's Department said. (El Paso Times)

Houston, Texas
Federal Bureau of Prisons
November 22, 2004 Houston Chronicle
Companies are scouting for sites to build a 190-bed federal halfway house, but residents of the neighborhood where it could be built might not get to air their thoughts at a public hearing. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons does not require such hearings, and federal agencies are not bound by a Texas law that mandates such hearings be held before state-funded halfway houses open. Victor Trevino, constable of Precinct 6, where one company had proposed building the halfway house, said Monday: "Any involvement of government, whether it is federal, state or HISD — they definitely should have a responsibility to inform its citizens." Bannum, a New Port Richey, Fla.-based company that runs 13 federal halfway houses nationwide, has informed the county that it will bid on the contract, but it has not disclosed the sites it is considering. Bannum officials did not return calls. Commissioner Lee, whose precinct includes the Lee Road location, said Correctional Systems should have done better research and should have been in a position to explain why it was recommending three or four sites to county officials. Companies and public agencies "site these facilities where they'll find the least resistance and the cheapest land costs," he said.

Houston Independent School District
Houston, Texas
Aramark
June 10, 2002
In a bold vote in 1997, the Houston Independent School District privatized the management of its massive food services program amid a politically charged fight for the lucrative contract. Part of then-Superintendent Rod Paige's much-touted reform aimed at focusing district energies on education rather than business, this battle was mostly about money. When the dust settled, Aramark, a Philadelphia-based powerhouse in a joint venture with the local Quality Concession Foods, won the five-year contract. On Thursday, HISD trustees will vote on whether to continue with the Aramark team, the sole bidder. But once again the contract has sparked political fire, this time from state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, who contends Hispanics, the city's largest ethnic group, have not gotten an equitable piece of the action. During the four years of the food services management contract, says Gallegos, African-American firms were paid more than $3.7 million. The bulk of that went to Quality Concession, an MWBE owned by Darryl King, a former chairman of the Houston Area Urban League, to help manage food services. Only $15,000 went to a Hispanic firm. The sole $15,000 Hispanic contract he cites in the letter went to his longtime political consultant and ally, Marc Campos. The services rendered: Campos lobbied for Aramark when it sought the contract in 1997. Campos since has been dropped. But Aramark and King are in the midst of hiring Powersól Communications, state-certified MWBE owned by Hector Careño and Frank McCune to internally market the free and subsidized lunch program to students and their parents. "I did what any entrepreneur would do," says King. "I got myself educated, followed the privatization story and prepared myself for the opportunity that was coming. "I invited Aramark to partner with me. They didn't come to town and pick a politically connected black person." (The Houston Chronicle)

Houston Processing Center
Houston, Texas
CCA
February 24, 2005 Houston Chronicle
Houston lawyer Richard Prinz is unhappy because there is no place for lawyers to talk with their clients in the vital minutes before the court appearance in the new immigration facility on Greens Road. He says he would like to see some small space made available near the courtroom. Lawyers representing immigrants at a new federal facility in far north Houston are confronting new restrictions on communications with their clients. Before the courtroom was moved to 5520 Greens Road in January, said Houston lawyer Richard Prinz, attorneys could talk with their clients in the cellblock visiting area until they were called to court. "So you'd basically go to court together and, of course, if you wished to speak to them afterward, you'd just go right back there and speak to them," he said. The routine at the new facility, however, is for a lawyer to wait in the small lobby just inside the building's entrance until a guard escorts the lawyer into the courtroom. Detainees are brought from cells into the courtroom by another route. Prinz said there is no opportunity to speak with a client in the vital minutes before the court appearance or after going inside. He would like to see some small space made available near the courtroom. "The judge has not and will not ever let you visit with your client while you're in the courtroom," he said. A member of Immigration Judge Susan Yarbrough's staff said the judge is not in charge of the building's layout and would have no comment on the issue. Luisa Aquino-Deason, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, referred questions to the Corrections Corporation of America. "We simply contract out that facility," she said. CCA Division 5 managing director Charles Martin said lawyers can meet with their clients "at a different part of the building" almost any time they want throughout the week. When they go to court, however, "they have to be prepared to go on in the courtroom," he said.

February 27, 1999
A Cuban inmate overpowered a guard and ran out of the front door of the facility. There appeared to be a white van waiting for the inmate which took him away. The escapee was convicted of "burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated rape with a deadly weapon." (Houston Chronicle, March 2, 1999)

May 9, 2003
Rep. Ray Allen (R-Grand Prairie) and Scott Gilmore are inseparable. Not only does Gilmore work as Allen's chief of staff but he is also policy director for the House Corrections Committee of which the representative is chairman. Together the two men are trying to expand the ability of private companies to run Texas prisons. They are also busily pushing initiatives to increase prison work programs. Among the contributors to Allen's campaign are officials from the Corrections Corporation of America. CCA along with Wackenhut Corporation stand to benefit from privatization, if by nothing else, through an increase in stock prices fueled by speculation over the possibility of future contracts. Allen and Gilmore are also business partners. They work together in a company Allen founded called Service House, Inc. The sole client of Service House, Inc. is the Correctional Industries Association (CIA). The nonprofit trade association represents private prison companies in their effort to encourage putting inmates to work. It also represents companies that sell products to state prison systems. Two of the corporate sponsors of the trade association are Wackenhut and CCA. Allen's legislation would create a new 9-member commission under the governor's office that would move toward privatizing half the state jail system, if the for-profit companies could come up with at least 5 percent in savings. Florida has tried a similar commission that has been wracked by scandal. Initially, the corrections committee, in which Democrats dominate, was lukewarm to privatization. No matter how much Allen crunched the numbers, the promised savings just didn't seem to be materializing. Then a curious thing appears to have occurred. Records indicate uberlobbyist Bill Messer took on Corrections Corporation of America as a client midway through the session. Messer, you may remember, was part of House Speaker Tom Craddick's transition team. He also raised considerable sums for the Midland Republican after he became Speaker. After Messer signed on with CCA, the private prison initiative found a new home in a mammoth government reform package called House Bill 2. (Texas Observer)

April 21, 2003
In the area of criminal justice, tight budgets can be both painful and dangerous. Case in point: Facing a 7% immediate fiscal year agency budget cut and 12.5% cut for the next biennium, two members of the House Corrections Committee have filed bills that propose privatizing the entire state jail system -- facilities that house the state's lowest level felony offenders. Legislators are clearly focused on the prison industry's claims of "cost savings: to the state through privatization -- a seductive notion coming from the PR mouths of large corporations like Wackenhut or CCA, especially in cash-strapped times. Three reports available for review at press time seem resoundingly opposed to privatization -- even including that submitted by TDCJ, which takes pains to avoid directly taking sides. "Let me give it to you in a bumper sticker," said TDCJ spokesman Larry Todd, "you've got to compare apples to apples and not apples to something else." Meredith Martin Rountree, director of the ACLU's Prison and Jail Accountability Project, makes a similar argument in her report. "Modern private prisons do not offer Texas a cheaper, safer alternative to the publicly run facilities currently operated by (TDCJ)," she writes. "On the contrary, recent history strongly suggests that expanded reliance on private prisons will shift significant financial obligations back onto Texas. Further," she continues, "delegating the management of an entire division of TDCJ to private prison contractors threatens to embroil TDCJ and Texas once again in litigation over how it treats prisoners, just as Texas emerges from judicial oversight of its prison system." Private prison corporations have not secured sterling reputations -- of which Stick should be well aware. Under a subcontract with Travis Co., Wackenhut Corrections Corporation assumed operations of the Travis Co. Criminal Justice Complex and also ran operations of the jail from 1997-99. In 1999 the relationship ended under a cloud of criminal allegations, including numerous charges of sexual assault of inmates by guards -- a handful of the cases are still pending in district court -- as well as allegations of misappropriation of funds. Similar allegations have followed the corrections giants around the country and across Texas, most notably in Wackenhut facilities in Harris Co. and Caldwell Co., were a former inmate said she was repeatedly raped over a four-month period by a guard. The well-publicized allegations of corruption and abuse inside private prisons often come down to a single problem: Private prisons are profit-driven. (Austin Chronicle)

Hunt Count Jail
Hunt County, Texas
CiviGenics
August 31, 2005 Herald Banner
The consideration of a plan to privatize the operation of the Hunt County Jail came to a sudden halt Tuesday when officials saw that it would be more expensive to hire Civigenics, Inc. than to maintain the status quo. Hunt County Judge Joe Bobbitt said the numbers revealed that Sheriff Don Anderson was running an efficient operation with the resources allotted him. "The proposal from Civigenics was a good one, and it included a level of service above what we currently provide, but it did not prove to be an affordable option at this time," Bobbitt said. "What they proposed is something we can only aspire to right how." Hunt County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Robert White said he was not surprised at the outcome of the talks. "We felt at the time of the initial offer that there was no way they'd be able to do it as cheaply as we do it ourselves, but out of fairness we went through the process and let them work the figures out," White said. He said the proposals from Civigenics varied from $34 to $37.50 expense per inmate per day, compared to a current cost of $23.61 per inmate per day under county operations. "They were figuring in some other things in their costs, but it still was not close," White said.

Jefferson County Downtown Jail
Beaumont, Texas
Correctional Service Corporation
August 10, 2005 The Enterprise
Three guards at a privately managed downtown jail have been fired after authorities decided their mistakes led to the escape last month of three dangerous prisoners, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. The inmates were recaptured within 25 hours of their July 10 escape. On Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons listed the men as being in custody at the Beaumont federal penitentiary. Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods, who ultimately controls the jail managed by Correctional Services Corp., said CSC's internal investigation pointed to human error in handling inmates as the cause of the escape, as is often the case. The inmates - Todd Christian, David Lee Jackson and Arzell Gulley - took advantage of their chance to leave their floor of the jail and found an open gate when they arrived downstairs, Woods said. The sliding gate had been left open in preparation for the arrival of inmates, Woods said. Without the open gate, the prisoners would not have been able to leave the jail, Woods said. The escape also prompted meetings between the CSC warden and Beaumont police officials. Beaumont Officer Carman Apple said police were unable to get color photos and full information about the escapees immediately, which made for a less effective search.

July 12, 2005 AP
Authorities have now captured all three federal prisoners who escaped from a private jail in downtown Beaumont, police said. Todd Christian, 26, was captured about 10:30 p.m. Monday after he knocked on the door of a home in Beaumont's South Park section and asked to use the telephone. Beaumont Officer Crystal Holmes, police spokeswoman, told Beaumont television station KFDM that the homeowners managed to stall Christian until police arrived. Arzell Gully, 34, was nabbed by police at the Port of Beaumont seven minutes after the escape Sunday night. The second inmate caught, David Jackson, 45, was arrested Monday morning near a hospital in Beaumont after he was spotted by hospital security guards, Holmes said. Jackson gave police a false name but was taken into custody and later identified by the warden, Holmes said. The inmates at Correctional Services Corp.'s jail used pepper spray and a shank to overpower the guards, she said. All three men were federal inmates awaiting trial who were involved in the killing of another prisoner in 1999. Holmes said she did not have details about the killing and whether the inmates had been convicted of other crimes.

Keller School Board
Keller, Texas
Aramark
September 20, 2005 Star-Telegram
Keller school trustees voted unanimously Monday to fire Aramark Management Corp., a company paid more than $1 million annually to supervise custodians, grounds and maintenance in the district. Aramark has 30 days to leave the district, and district employees will take over, Assistant Superintedent Bill Stone said moments after the vote. The company was hired in September 1999 to oversee district employees, including custodians, groundskeepers and maintenance workers. Their five-year contract was renewed for another five years in 2004. But in recent months, complaints from district employees and trustees have grown. And on Aug. 17, Veitenheimer sent a letter to the company saying the district "is considering termination of the agreement." According to the letter, about one-third of the money paid to Aramark does not cover anything tangible, but is for an "added value" the company will bring to all tasks. That value has not been realized, officials say. Custodians voice "an almost constant complaint" that they do not have the supplies and materials they need to keep buildings clean. And district officials are not certain they are getting what they pay for. The district paid Aramark just over $25,000 to furnish cleaning equipment needed at Liberty Elementary School, the district's newest campus. But guidelines suggest the typical cost for equipping a new elementary school runs $5,000 to $10,000 less, according to the letter.

LaSalle County Jail
La Salle, Texas
Emerald Correctional Management
September 27, 2003
A lawsuit set for trial today over the La Salle County Commissioners' handling of public access to information about a controversial jail project has been settled after a marathon negotiating session. "The lawsuit was filed because they weren't giving us information about the project," said Donna Lednicky, of Encinal, one of the plaintiffs who attended the 13-hour mediation session that ended late Wednesday. "We sued because they violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, and they have admitted this," she said of one element of the settlement. The suit was filed last year by several residents of Encinal, a small community in southern LaSalle County where the county commissioners unanimously voted to build a 500-bed jail to hold U.S. Marshals Service prisoners. Critics of the $24 million jail project accused the commissioners of holding meetings without giving proper notice, withholding public documents about the project and refusing to answer questions in public forums about it. Originally filed in hope of blocking construction of the jail, the suit was settled short of that goal. The agreement calls for former LaSalle County Judge Jimmy Patterson to be replaced on the Public Facilities Corporation by current County Judge Joel Rodriguez and for all public documents relating to the jail project to be filed with the LaSalle County Clerk. The county also has agreed to post notices of its meetings in Encinal. Before this, Encinal residents had to drive 30 miles to Cotulla to read postings at the county courthouse. In addition, the county agreed to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees and court costs. "It's still a terrible deal, but since the bonds were approved by the attorney general, it's uncontestable. We think we got more in the settlement than going to court," Lednicky said. (Express-News)

September 20, 2003
The U.S. Marshals Service soon will narrow the list of proposals from South Texas counties wanting to partner with the agency to build a 2,800-bed federal detention facility near Laredo — the largest private prison project in the nation. Details are sketchy but at least two counties — LaSalle and Webb — are interested in landing the deal for what competitors for the contract have called a "superjail." Florida-based Wackenhut Corp. has submitted two sites in Webb County, where it says it could build the facility with the county's help. Another private prison corporation, Emerald Correctional Management of Shreveport, La., wants to expand an already controversial project in Encinal to give the federal agency the number of beds it seeks. Emerald has an agreement with the LaSalle County Public Facilities Corp. to manage a 500-bed federal detention center in Encinal, population 629. Construction of the center is under way, Sheriff Jerry P. Patterson said. LaSalle County Judge Joel Rodriguez Jr., who recently was elected and isn't a member of the public facilities corporation, opposes any plans to expand the detention center. Rodriguez is a vocal critic of the center itself, saying the prior administration issued high-interest bonds to pay for it without public input. He said the county is in no position to handle more prisoners, considering it's still waiting to hear from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection on a possible contract to build a separate 1,000-bed facility. Frio County also is being considered for the BCBP project. "That would increase five times the population of Encinal," Rodriguez said. "The city doesn't have the infrastructure to support a 2,800-bed facility." Officials with Emerald Correctional Management couldn't be reached for comment Friday. Encinal resident Sean Chadwell said he doubts the U.S. Marshals Service will seriously consider any proposal from LaSalle County to build the "superjail," because of the turmoil it generated by approving the 500-bed facility. Chadwell is among a group of Encinal residents who have filed a lawsuit against LaSalle County for improperly approving that $27 million deal. County officials have denied the suit's allegations and a mediation hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in San Antionio. At one point, the federal agency suspended funding for the project because of complaints that residents weren't being included in the decision-making process. The money was later reinstated. "I don't think they really stand a chance," said Webb County Judge Louis Bruni of LaSalle County's effort to net the 2,800-bed facility. "The lack of infrastructure up there would (increase) the cost." But Bruni said there are other competitors within Webb County that he would need to fend off in order for the county's joint venture with Wackenhut to win. The U.S. Marshals Service won't identify the entities vying for the contract, or even say how many are competing or where they propose to locate the center. "Everybody wants a piece of the pie," Bruni said. "It would be a tremendous gain." The judge estimates 500 new jobs would be created in the county if the facility were to be built there. But even in Laredo, opposition already has sprouted. On Thursday, representatives from the Austin-based Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition spurred about a dozen students at Texas A&M International University to fight the project. "Do we want Laredo to seem like a giant holding cell for prisoners?" asked the coalition's Carlos Villareal. (San Antonio Express-News)

July 21, 2003
Backers of a controversial jail financed with $21.8 million of taxable, high-yield revenue bonds have sued the top official in LaSalle County, Tex., claiming he interfered with a $25 million contract to build the 500-bed facility under construction near the Mexican border and endangered millions of dollars worth of similar projects. The plaintiffs include Dallas-based bond underwriter Municipal Capital Markets Group Inc., Shreveport, La.-based private prison operator Emerald Correctional Management, and the architectural firm Corplan Inc. of Dallas. The lawsuit, filed in LaSalle County District Court on July 14 by San Antonio attorney Troy S. Martin 3d, alleges that county Judge Joel Rodriguez has disrupted plans to build a series of jails near the Mexican border. The lawsuit alleges that Rodriguez, who is the top county commissioner, made false statements about the deal to reporters. "If Rodriguez is not prevented and restrained from engaging in threatening activities and communications with third persons, there is a substantial likelihood that these entire multimillion dollar projects will fail," the lawsuit states. In a separate lawsuit, former county Judge Jimmy P. Patterson, who remains head of the LaSalle County Public Facilities Detention Corp. that issued the bonds on Nov. 7, is suing Rodriguez for defamation. A third lawsuit, filed by a LaSalle County citizens group, accuses the county commissioners of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act by withholding information about the deal. Under the contracts, Rodriguez said the county stands to lose $373,808 in the first year, $1.2 million in the second, and more than $1.9 million afterward from the new 500-bed Encinal detention facility. The district attorney for LaSalle County is also leading a search for records on the bond deal, Rodriguez said. Although a preliminary official statement for the revenue bonds stated that county attorney Elizabeth Martinez had reviewed and approved the contracts, she denied that, saying she was not hired by the authority and did not sign the
deal. (The Bond Buyer)

May 12, 2003
The honeymoon between new LaSalle County Judge Joel Rodriguez and the four incumbent county commissioners — if ever there was one — has ended with a nasty thud. Saying he is weary of begging the commissioners for financial information about past county projects and also fearful the county is just weeks from going broke, Rodriguez this week took an extreme step. "I'm asking the county attorney to file misdemeanor (criminal) complaints on public information violations and bid violations against the commissioners," said Rodriguez, who served two terms as county treasurer before being elected judge. Rodriguez says he's most worried about contracts the county signed last year with a Louisiana company, Emerald Correctional Management Corp., to operate two facilities. One is a 48-bed county jail that houses federal prisoners, and the other is a 576-bed detention center that also will house federal detainees. The larger facility will open next spring near Encinal. Rodriguez claims the contracts, negotiated without the oversight of a lawyer, are bad for the county. He said the county already is losing thousands each month on the jail because it must house its own prisoners elsewhere. He predicts the situation will get worse when the larger facility opens. He said the commissioners have ignored his pleas to hire an outside lawyer to review the contracts with an eye toward renegotiating them. The project, rushed through late last year with a minimum of public input or disclosure, has triggered two lawsuits from residents complaining about the process. It was financed with high-interest debt issued through the county's nonprofit Public Facilities Corp. The four commissioners, along with former County Judge Jimmy Patterson, are the board members of both the PFC and another nonprofit entity that backed a large county project. (San Antonio Express-News)

December 12, 2002
A lawsuit filed by a group of citizens in La Salle County, Tex., seeks to halt a controversial private jail near the Mexican border financed with nearly $22 million in high-yield bonds, and accuses county officials of violating the state's open-meetings law in approving the project. The project, designed to create jobs in the poor, sparsely populated county, has come under siege since the bonds were sold on Nov. 7. The official statement for the taxable bonds cited approval on some legal questions by county attorney Elizabeth Martinez, but Martinez has said she never signed any documents concerning the jail. County Treasurer Joel Rodriguez, who defeated outgoing county Judge Jimmy P. Patterson and will take office Jan. 1, has vowed to stop the jail. In Texas, the county judge is the top administrative official and leads the commissioners' court. The suit filed on Monday asks the state district court in Cotulla to halt any commissions and use of bond proceeds, and to also declare the nonprofit issuer of the bonds -- the La Salle County Public Facility Detention Corp. -- "null and void." The corporation was created and is managed by the county commissioners and county judge. The U.S. Marshals Service, which was expected to be the major customer for the 500-bed jail, last week suspended a $3 million grant for the project pending an investigation and hinted that it could back out of the project. Although Patterson and others on the commissioners' court claim they have made all documents available in meetings, Rodriguez and others dispute that. Rodriguez said he had to file a freedom of information request to get the documents, even though he serves as the chief investment official of the county. Attorney H.C. Hall 3d, representing Greg Springer of Encinal, last month wrote a letter to Judge Martinez seeking an investigation of the commissioners and claiming business involving the jail was conducted in private. "My client, as well as other landowners in La Salle County, believe that all required public notices and requirements incident to the project have been ignored and/or purposefully avoided," Hall wrote. "It is apparent that the entire transaction has been purposefully conducted behind closed doors." (The Bond Buyer)

December 5, 2002
The U.S. Marshals have thrown a wrench into construction plans for the proposed $25 million Encinal detention facility. On Nov. 22, the Marshals issued La Salle County Judge Jimmy Patterson a letter stating that the $3 million federal Cooperative Agreement Program grant, which was awarded July 29, would be suspended until certain demands are met. At 6:45 p.m., the judge and four commissioners will convene as the La Salle County Public Facility Detention Corporation. They formed this private nonprofit corporation for financing purposes of the $25 million, 500-bed facility, which they want to use as an economic development tool. However, due to a public outcry by Encinal ranchers and businessmen, the incoming La Salle County Judge (Joel Rodriguez, who is the county treasurer) and incoming treasurer (Marisa Mancha, an Encinal council member), the Marshals put the CAP grant on hold. "The U.S. Marshals Service has received numerous telephone calls and written correspondence concerning the feasibility of La Salle County undertaking such a project," the Nov. 22 letter reads. "Also, we have learned that now there is a corporation involved with this project that has an action filed against them by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development," it states. In 1999, La Salle County officials formed a similar nonprofit corporation (La Salle County Housing Finance Corporation), but defaulted on nearly $1 million in U.S. Housing and Urban Development-backed home loans. HUD has since issued sanctions against the housing corporation, County Judge Patterson and Commissioners Albert Aguero and Raymond Landrum. The Encinal facility would be managed and run by a private company called Emerald Correctional Management, L.L.C. of Shreveport, La. In early November, the Texas Attorney General's office approved the sale of $22 million in high interest revenue bonds for the project. (Laredo Morning Times)

November 27, 2002
For Jimmy P. Patterson, the recent sale of nearly $22 million in lease revenue bonds to build a privately managed jail is about bringing jobs to a poor Texas county near the Mexico border. The outgoing county judge says the jail will provide badly needed jobs while attracting other businesses to La Salle County. In addition, the county has a deal with the U.S. government to provide funding and prisoners for the lockup. But County Judge-elect Joel Rodriquez Jr. fears the deal could ruin the sparsely populated county. He claims Patterson pushed it through without enough community input and before other LaSalle officials - including the county attorney - could sign off on the bonds, in possible violation of securities regulations. In addition, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshal's Service says it is still evaluating whether the county is actually the proprietor for the jail as would be required for a valid Intergovernmental Agreement like that cited in bond documents for the deal. Emerald Correctional Management of Shreveport, La., would operate the jail, which is tentatively scheduled to open in April. Construction has yet to begin, following an official groundbreaking on Sept. 25. In Texas, county judge is the title for the top administrative official, who is not a judge in the legal sense. Patterson, who has served in county government for 24 years and whose brother, Jerry Patterson, is sheriff, says he stands by the jail plan despite the controversy over the project that he admits may have contributed to his defeat by Rodriguez, the county treasurer. But Rodriquez says the county is in no position to engage in high finance, even through a conduit such as the Public Facility Detention Corp. In some years, debt service on the bonds will surpass $2 million, which equals the current operating budget of the county, he says. The official statement says the county will be required to make rental payments sufficient to pay principal, premium and interest on the bonds when due solely from revenues of the jail. But if the U.S. Marshal's office backs out of its deal, where will that leave the county? Rodriguez asks. He says he will try to stop the project as soon as he takes office Jan. 1 and assumes leadership of the PFDC as well. "This is a doomed deal," said Rodriquez. "It's like real estate speculation, basically. Speculators come in and sucker counties like ours and make them think they've struck gold, then the whole thing collapses." Rodriguez, who claims he had to file Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain basic information about the deal despite his role as the county's chief investment officer, says the official statement contains misleading statements. He says the OS contains an opinion by the county attorney on the legality of the bond issue, but the county attorney never provided such an opinion. Attorney Elizabeth Martinez said she knew nothing about the jail project until Nov. 4, three days before the bonds were sold at rates ranging from 10% to 12%. Then, she said, she was given 24 hours to sign an opinion that she considered beyond her expertise. She said she never signed the opinion. "I didn't appreciate the fact of being brought in at the last minute and my name being used without my being informed about it," Martinez said. "I am counsel to the county, but I have never been appointed counsel to the corporation." Some officials say a misstatement involving a county attorney opinion could constitute a violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Act of 1934, Rule 10b-5."A 10b-5 violation involves a misstatement or omission of a material fact," said Martha Haines, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Municipal Securities. Patterson said he and Rick Reyes, a former commissioner from neighboring Webb County who recently became an adviser on bond issues, were the first to discuss the idea of building a jail. Reyes is a consultant to the county and stands to make $700,000 for his work based on a percentage of the bond proceeds. (The Bond Buyer)

La Vernia, Texas
October 13, 2006 Express-News
La Vernia became the second city in Wilson County to balk at plans to build a 500-bed detention facility after a groundswell of opposition from residents. City Council members unanimously voted Thursday night not to continue studying the proposal, which would have established a privately run detention center to house undocumented immigrants from countries other than Mexico for the Department of Homeland Security. "We did our research on it and found out it wasn't a good fit for our community," La Vernia Mayor Brad Beck said Friday. Developer Richard Reyes, who tried to interest both La Vernia and Floresville in the project, couldn't be reached for comment Friday. Reyes operates Innovative Government Strategies, a consulting firm in Boerne. The La Vernia City Council voted on the issue immediately after convening for its meeting Thursday, pre-empting several planned speeches critical of the project, said Kathy Crisp, a local real estate agent. Crisp was one of two residents who spoke after the vote, thanking the council for its support. Crisp said the town of about 1,000 rallied against the proposal because residents didn't want La Vernia's image to be that of a prison town. "This was something we were just adamant about," she said. "We did not want it close to our schools. We did not want it in our community."

Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center
Houston, Texas
Cornell
February 15, 2006 Dallas Morning News
A man who police say escaped a Houston halfway house and killed three men in Fort Worth claims to have killed a man in Albuquerque in 1995, New Mexico authorities said. Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, who aligns himself with white supremacists, was arrested in November and charged with fatally shooting three men in Fort Worth. Mr. Wilkins, 37, of Houston told authorities he killed as many as 12 people in two states who owed drug debts, officials said. According to federal court records, Mr. Wilkins escaped from Harris County on Oct. 2 after he was issued a religious pass to attend church. Mr. Wilkins was serving a five-year sentence for felony gun possession at the Houston-based Cornell Corrections Facility, a privately operated halfway house contracted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

November 23, 2005 Houston Chronicle
Reacting to the capture of a Houston halfway house escapee now suspected in three slayings in North Texas, Mayor Bill White's crime victims advocate on Wednesday denounced as outrageous that anyone could walk out of a community corrections center without the public being notified. Andy Kahan said the incident opens a "Pandora's box" of issues related to how escapes are handled. "This is a public safety crisis," said Kahan. "How many other fugitives have escaped from a halfway house that the public is not made aware of?" Federal officials responded that employees at the low-security halfway house followed policy the day Christopher Wilkins' walked away, and that nothing in the inmate's behavior indicated he was a particular threat or that he had any plans to slip out. He is now charged in connection with the Fort Worth slayings. Wilkins' capture on Nov. 5 ended a monthlong taste of freedom for the federal inmate. He is being held on $1 million bail in the Tarrant County Jail in connection with the Oct. 26 shooting death of Gilbert Vallejo, 47, and the slayings two days later of Mike Silva, 33, and Willie Freeman, 40. He also is charged in a series of crimes committed within just 11 days of Vallejo's slaying, including aggravated assault and two auto thefts, Fort Worth police said. "If there had been a warning and a media alert and the public was informed to be on the lookout for Wilkins, you can certainly speculate that his crime spree may have been prevented," Kahan said. Wilkins, 37, received a pass to attend church on Oct. 2 but did not return to Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center in downtown Houston. The halfway house is operated by Cornell Companies Inc., which has a contract with the Bureau of Prisons. Officials at the center would not comment on the escape. According to a federal arrest warrant, the staff contacted local police and hospitals the day of Wilkins' escape but could not find him. He was officially listed as an escapee at 5 p.m. His whereabouts were unknown until his capture in Fort Worth.

November 23, 2005 Dallas Morning News
A criminal who police said may have ties to white supremacy has been charged in the slayings of three men during his escape last month. Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, 37, of Houston, already jailed on unrelated charges, was arrested on suspicion of murder and capital murder. He is jailed in lieu of bail exceeding $1 million. Mr. Wilkins is accused of gunning down Gilbert Vallejo, 47, on Oct. 26 as he left the Lady Luck Lounge on South Jennings Avenue near downtown. Mr. Vallejo was shot numerous times, police said. Mr. Wilkins also is accused of fatally shooting Mike Silva, 33, of Hood County and Willie Freeman, 40, of Fort Worth. They were found Oct. 28 lying in a ditch off the roadway in the 9600 block of Old Weatherford Road in west Fort Worth. Both were shot in the head, said Fort Worth police spokesman Lt. Ralph Swearingin. Police do not have a motive but are looking into Mr. Wilkins' background. He was serving a 60-month sentence at the Cornell Corrections Facility, a privately operated halfway house contracted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. U.S. marshals filed a criminal complaint this month charging Mr. Wilkins with escape.

November 22, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A federal felon now charged in the slayings of three men in Fort Worth escaped from a halfway house in Houston last month after telling officials he was going to church. Christopher Wilkins, 37, is being held on $1 million bail at Tarrant County Jail in the Oct. 26 shooting death of Gilbert Vallejo, 47, and the slayings two days later of Mike Silva, 33, and Willie Freeman, 40, Fort Worth police said. On Oct. 2, Wilkins slipped out of Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center, 1819 Commerce, after receiving a pass to attend religious services, according to the federal arrest warrant. Local police were notified after he failed to return by 1:15 p.m. Wilkins was officially listed as an escapee at 5 p.m., the federal affidavit said. The facility in Houston is operated by the Cornell Companies Inc. Officials with the halfway house could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. After his escape, Wilkins made his way to Fort Worth where he has been charged in an 11-day violent crime spree - including aggravated assaults and home burglaries, in addition to the slayings.

Liberty County Jail/Juvenile Center
Liberty, Texas
CCA
December 30, 2004 Houston Chronicle
A man who gave himself some yuletide cheer by escaping from the Liberty County Jail early Christmas morning was recaptured Thursday in southeast Houston. Arthur Lavel Jones, 32, of Dayton was apprehended about 10 a.m. by Harris County Precinct 6 Constable deputies.

December 29, 2004 Houston Chronicle
A man who is at large after escaping from the Liberty County Jail has probably received help since he fled on Christmas morning. Officers also think the escapee, Arthur Lavel Jones, 32, of Dayton, is now armed. Jones, who was being held on charges of assaulting a police officer and evading arrest, escaped from the jail about 2:15 a.m., said Liberty County sheriff's Capt. Billy Tidwell. Jones and inmate Anthony Fowler, 20, who was in jail on a drug charge, were painting the lobby of the jail when the guard left the pair alone for a few moments. Tidwell said the jail is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. The escape was the second time this year inmates have fled the facility. At least five other jailbreaks have occurred at the Liberty County facility since it was privatized.

August 5, 2004
Two correctional officers have been fired and another suspended without pay following an investigation into the June 23 escape of three inmates from the Liberty County Jail. Liberty County Sheriff Greg Arthur did not disclose the names of the disciplined jailers. The suspended jailer, however, had previously been identified in news reports as Chris Coleman. Arthur said a shift captain was fired for violating jail policy after he ordered a correctional officer to remove eight inmates from a high-security segregation unit at the same time — rather than move them one by one — and allow them to watch television in the day room. (Houston Chronicle)

June 26, 2004
The three Liberty County Jail inmates who escaped earlier this week were arrested Friday with a woman who had been hiding them in an east Harris County home, authorities said. It remained unknown Friday how long the escapees had been at the home. At least five other prison breaks have occurred at the Liberty County Jail since it was privatized. Authorities could not be reached for comment about the frequent escapes. (Houston Chronicle)

June 24, 2004
Three Liberty County Jail inmates, who escaped after overpowering a guard, stripping him and locking him in a cell, remained at large late Wednesday. The jailbreak took place about 1 a.m. Wednesday, when Redden and Rivera overpowered a jailer in the day room, threatened him with a steel pipe and punched him a few times, the sheriff said. (Houston Chronicles)

June 23, 2004
Deputies are searching this morning for three inmates of the Liberty County Jail who overpowered a guard and escaped overnight. They are considered dangerous. A spokeswoman for the Liberty County Sheriff's Department said that around 1 a.m., the trio subdued the guard in a struggle, forced him to strip and locked him in a cell. Although bruised, he was not seriously injured. One of the prisoners was a burglary suspect, and the other two were being held for the U.S. Marshals. (Houston Chronicle)

September 24, 2003
County Treasurer Janet Harrelson abused her authority by orchestrating the moving of her convicted son from a prison in Beaumont to a county jail closer to her, District Attorney Mike Little said Tuesday. In opening statements before visiting state District Judge David Walker, Little said Harrelson, 50, submitted applications for warrants for permission to transfer her son, Jeffrey Paul Hale, to Liberty County under false pretenses. "She wanted her son in Liberty County for her convenience," Little told jurors. Little said that once Harrelson arranged to have her son moved to the Liberty County Jail, she traveled with a deputy in a county vehicle to retrieve him. On the way back to Liberty, the three stopped at Harrelson's Dayton home for lunch. Defense attorney Mike Turner said Harrelson acted as a private citizen and concerned mother, not as country treasurer. Harrelson, who has been temporarily removed from office, is on trial for abuse of official capacity, forgery and two counts of tampering with government documents. (Houston Chronicle)

August 29, 1999
Two Texas inmates escaped from the CCA-operated jail by climbing through an air vent in a bathroom. One inmate broke both ankles and was caught early on, but the other, charged with auto theft and burglary had a previous escape charge and was found 5 days later. This is the fourth escape since CCA took control of the facility in 1995.(Houston Chronicle, Sept. 4, 1999)

Limestone County Detention Center
Limestone County, Texas
CiviGenics
August 31, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
The firm that houses Smith County's overflow jail inmates will soon ask to increase its fee by $1.50 per inmate, per day, to cover rising fuel costs, Sheriff J.B. Smith learned on Wednesday. During a trip to the Civigenics-run facility in Limestone County where Smith County inmates are now housed, Civigenics officials told Smith they'd soon seek to raise the per diem to $42, up from the current $40. But Smith said he was able to haggle Civigenics down some. Based on a current average number of prisoners Smith County sends to Limestone County and the Civigenics-run facility in Falls County - 175 - the budgetary impact on Smith County would be about $96,000, from $2.55 million to $2.65 million. But Smith says a more realistic average is 200 prisoners, raising the impact to $109,000, from $2.92 million to $3.03 million. That $1.50 on the per diem is an increase of 3.8 percent.

May 20, 2005 KWTX
What authorities called a disturbance broke out at about 10 a.m. Friday in a unit of the privately run Limestone County Detention Center. The incident was under control by noon, authorities said. The unit housed almost 50 inmates, but the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department said not all of them were involved in the incident. Several area law enforcement agencies responded to the disturbance. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The detention center houses more than 750 inmates and has room for more than 850 medium to maximum security prisoners. The facility houses inmates from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and counties throughout the state, according to CiviGenics, the company that operates the detention center.

Lockhart Unit
Lockhart, Texas
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
September 14, 2006 Houston Chronicle
Penny Rayfield's 35 assembly workers get neither vacation nor sick pay. Their salaries are barely above minimum wage. But they show up on time and don't hunt for work elsewhere. They seem happy to have a job, even one that pays about $4 less per hour than what assembly workers make, on average, elsewhere in Texas. Rayfield's company, Onshore Resources, has a sweetheart deal. It pays Texas exactly $1 a year for the sprawling building where it makes electronic circuit boards. It has no need to foot health insurance for the employees because the state provides their medical care. The for-profit business is tucked inside a private prison in this rural community 30 miles south of Austin. The issue pits those anguished by the erosion of middle-class jobs, many of which have gone overseas, against those trying to rehabilitate inmates and enhance prison security. "This is not meant to displace workers in the free world, it is meant to reduce recidivism," said Randa Taylor, spokeswoman for the Geo Group, which operates the minimum-security Lockhart Unit, site of the largest PIE operations in the state.

Jan. 26, 1997
Authorities were searching for a man nearly finished with two 30-year burglary sentences who escaped from a private jail Friday, a state prison official said. Cecil Comans, 35, is believed to have fled the minimum security Lockhart Unit operated by Wackenhut Corrections by climbing over a back fence during heavy fog. (Houston Chronicle)

McLennan County Detention Center
Waco, Texas
CiviGenics
July 15, 2004
An employee with a private detention company that operates the former McLennan County Jail in downtown Waco was indicted Wednesday on charges that he had sex with a female jail inmate. A McLennan County grand jury indicted Jonathan Tate, 23, for improper sexual activity, a state-jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail. The indictment alleges that on April 5, Tate had sex with an inmate at the McLennan County Detention Center on Columbus Avenue. Tate, a guard, was hired by CiviGenics, which has a contract with McLennan County to operate the jail. The facility is used primarily to house federal inmates waiting transfer to federal prisons and those suspected of immigration violations. (Waco Tribune)

June 28, 2004
A McLennan County Detention Center guard and an inmate were listed in critical condition Monday after a highway accident Saturday. A van carrying two detention center guards and 13 inmates rolled several times outside Abilene, sending everyone aboard to the hospital, said Trooper Gilbert Ruiz of the Department of Public Safety. The wreck occurred on Interstate 20 in Callahan County at about 12:30 a.m. while the prisoners were being transported from Odessa to Waco, Ruiz said. The van was eastbound on I-20 when a tire blew out, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle, Ruiz said. The van then rolled several times. (Waco Tribune)

February 5, 2004
The McLennan County Commissioners Court and district attorney were subpoenaed to appear before a Dallas County grand jury investigating the owner of jail food service company and his relationship with officials in several Texas counties, a newspaper reported. County Judge Jim Lewis and Commissioner Ray Meadows have already testified before the grand jury in Dallas. They were to testify again Friday, along with the rest of the commissioners and District Attorney John Segrest, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported in Thursday editions, citing unnamed sources. Prosecutors also have subpoenaed records from the McLennan County Sheriff's Office and Commissioners Court, the newspaper reported. The grand jury began investigating Jack Madera of Mid-America Services of Dallas after reports surfaced that Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles accepted thousands of dollars worth of gifts and trips from Madera between 1999 and 2001. Bowles awarded Madera's company a five-year, $20 million commissary contract in 2002. The grand jury has since expanded its investigation to include other counties in which Madera's company operates. (AP)

November 26, 2003
Lela McMillion says life without her youngest daughter, Suncerey has been a constant struggle. She says she cries a lot and not a day has gone by in the last two years that she hasn't thought of Suncerey in some way. "I miss my baby, she was my baby, I think about her all the time, she's on my mind when I wake up, she's on my mind when I go to bed, it hurts, the children don't have their mom and I dont' have my baby, " McMillon said. Two year old Yiencey, is Suncerey's youngest child. Yiency was a newborn baby when her mother disappeared in November, 2001. She was born prematurely and Suncerey had been at the hospital learning to care for her when she vanished. She was last seen with Sherman Lamont Fields, who had escaped from the downtown Waco Detention Center. Fields was recaptured several weeks later, but Suncerey was no where to be found. "After she was taken from the hospital and missing all those days, I'm waiting to find out where was her body and what was done to her, " McMillon said. Lela's worst nightmare became reality when Suncerey's body was found in a field south of Waco the day before Thanksgiving, two years ago. After the discovery, authorities added murder to the long list of charges against Fields. Lela says she had heard her daughter once dated him, but she was sure Suncery had broken things off. " I've never in my life felt hatred before and that's unreal for me." Lela describes her daughter as beautiful, kind and giving. It's those things she tells her three grandchildren, all of whom she's helping to raise, when they ask about their mother. "We just tell them that she's in heaven and she died and went to heaven with God, but we know eventually we will have to tell them what happened to their mother." Lela says she visits her daughter's grave about once a month, though she says it doesn't ease her pain. She says nothing ever will. "If it wasn't for God and my prayers I wouldn't be able to handle all of this, her life was taken, she was too young, she was taken away from her children and they will never know their mom, " she said. Lela says little Yiencey looks a lot like Suncerey once did. She says she sees her daughter in the eyes of her grandaughter everyday. Her hope is that others will too. McMillion filed suit against Civigenics, the company which leases the McLennan County Detention Center, after her daughter's murder. Earlier this year, Civigencis settled the suit for an undisclosed amount. Fields is scheduled to go on trial in Waco Federal Court for Coleman's murder and escape in January. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty. (KWTX)

October 10, 2003
A former jail guard who helped state prisoner Sherman Lamont Fields escape from the McLennan County Detention Center in November 2001 pleaded guilty Thursday to a variety of federal charges that could land him in prison for 40 years. Benny Donnell Garrett, 25, formerly of Marlin, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, aiding and abetting escape by providing prohibited objects to a prisoner, establishing a drug manufacturing operation and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco will sentence Garrett on Dec. 10. Garrett, a former employee of CiviGenics, a private detention company that contracts with McLennan County and the federal government to operate the downtown Waco jail, faces a maximum 40-year prison term and fines up to $2 million. Fields, 29, is charged with escaping from the detention center and then killing his former girlfriend, Suncerey Coleman, seven hours after his escape. Federal prosecutors say he obtained a key from Garrett and used it to flee the jail through a fifth-floor fire escape door. Fields and Garrett both are named in a multicount federal indictment. Federal prosecutors sought permission for both men to face the death penalty if convicted in the escape conspiracy. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft approved the death penalty in Fields' case but rejected the request for Garrett. Fields is set for trial in Waco's federal court on Jan. 12. Besides giving the key to Fields, Garrett also pleaded guilty to providing marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes and access to a cell phone to Fields and other CiviGenics inmates in exchange for money or the promise of money. The detention center at 520 Columbus Ave. is across the street from St. Paul's Episcopal School. Fort Worth attorney Douglas C. Greene, who represents Garrett, said his client "possibly" will testify at Fields' trial. Greene said Garrett had never been in trouble before getting mixed up with Fields. Since his arrest two years ago, however, Garrett has been placed on misdemeanor probation in Falls County for possession of marijuana, court records show. "He stupidly let this guy out," Greene said. "He's a young kid who was provided with virtually no training and put in charge of a bunch of professional, federal criminals, and they corrupted him. But he certainly didn't know anything about what (Fields) was going to do after he escaped." (Tribune-Herald)

July 13, 2002
The family of murder victim Suncerey Coleman filed a lawsuit Wednesday against CiviGenics, operators of a downtown Waco jail where an inmate escaped in November. The lawsuit claims that CiviGenics was negligent in allowing convicted felon Sherman Lamont Fields, 27, to obtain a key to the fifth-floor fire escape and flee the jail Nov. 6. Federal prosecutors have charged Fields and a former CiviGenics jailer, Benny Donnell Garrett, 24, of Marlin with Coleman's murder. They said Fields bribed Garrett to give him the fire escape key. Authorities are seeking the federal death penalty against both men. "We are eager for a jury to hear this case," said Waco attorney Bill Johnston, who represents the family. "We believe the corporation bears the responsibility for what it allowed to happen." According to the lawsuit, CiviGenics did not properly staff the jail, train officers or retain employees before Fields' escape. It said jail supervisors also waited more than four hours to alert law enforcement authorities that an inmate was missing on Nov. 6. CiviGenics has operated the jail since 1998 under a contract that nets the county more than $700,000 a year. The jail holds detainees and inmates for several federal agencies, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Bureau of Prisons. The contract frees the county from liability stemming from "any negligent or wrongful act or failure to act of the operator or its officers, employees, agents or contractors." (Wacotrib.com)

April 24, 2002
The former Texas prison unit warden and two-term Anderson County sheriff recently became the fifth warden in the three years that the private detention company CiviGenics has contracted with McLennan County to operate the former county jail in downtown Waco. Since October, the facility has suffered through an unusually rocky period that included the escape of a prisoner who is charged with killing a woman while he was a fugitive and the arrest of a guard charged with facilitating the escape. There also have been the resignations of four top detention center officials; an inmate disturbance and fire; and a failed jail inspection. Also, local Hispanic leaders have charged that the county is in business with a company that improperly warehouses those charged with minor immigration violations until deportation and is violating their rights by, among other things, not employing enough Spanish-speaking officers. The downtown jail, which the county built in 1981, sat vacant for two years after county inmates were moved to the enlarged county jail on State Highway 6 in 1996. County commissioners contracted with CiviGenics in 1998 and hoped to reap a minimum of $250,000 a year in the arrangement with the Boston-based private prison company. From a financial standpoint, the deal has been a "cash cow," as Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Meadows describes it. In 2000, the county earned $645,848 in the deal, and $426,811 last year. When the county entered into the contract with CiviGenics, former Sheriff Jack Harwell told commissioners that he would not object to the deal as long as the inmates were "short-term, low-risk prisoners who do not come from other states." However, after the Nov. 6 escape of convicted felon Sherman Fields, who was on the fifth floor awaiting federal trial on a weapons charge, and the concerns lodged earlier this month by Hispanic leaders, the focus has been magnified on the types of prisoners being held there. Hubert estimates that 80 percent of the inmates he houses are there on some type of drug-related convictions. He said he has seen only a few inmates with immigration concerns in the few months he has been warden in Waco. (Waco Tribune-Herald)

Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Facility
Mineral Wells, Texas
CCA
August 29, 2006 Mineral Wells Index
A Mineral Wells prison escapee was a just few miles from home when arrested Sunday morning on U.S. Highway 51 north of Granbury. Two Hood County officers spotted Harvey Veal, 43, of Granbury, about 8 a.m. as they went to relieve state law enforcement officers maintaining surveillance on the home of a relative. The Hood County officers saw a gravel truck stop to pick up a hitchhiker matching Veal’s description and called for assistance. He was wearing blue jean cut-offs and a black T-shirt. He was reportedly taken into custody without incident. Veal was serving a four-year prison term on firearms possession charges, according to Michelle Lyons of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He reportedly had one year to serve on his sentence. He escaped from Corrections Corporation of America Pre-Parole Transfer Facility in Mineral Wells late Thursday night by wedging a book between the top of a chain link fence and strands of razor wire and slipping through the gap.

August 28, 2006 Statesman
Investigators from the Texas prison system apprehended Saturday an inmate who escaped from a privately run pre-parole center in Mineral Wells. Harvey Veal, 43, was spotted by investigators around 8 a.m. hitchhiking along Highway 51 near Granbury. He was taken into custody without incident, said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Veal disappeared some time between 7 and 9:15 p.m. Thursday while he was supposed to be attending a class. A preliminary search failed to find Veal overnight, but it did find a clipboard stuck in a fence, Lyons said.

25, 2006 Star Ledger
Search teams scanned the Mineral Wells area Friday after an inmate escaped from a privately run pre-parole transfer center near Lake Mineral Wells State Park. Harvey Veal, 43, disappeared some time between 7 and 9:15 p.m. Thursday while he was supposed to be attending a class, said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. A preliminary search failed to find Veal overnight, but it did find a clipboard stuck in a fence, Lyons said. Veal was serving a four-year sentence for a Tarrant County felony firearms possession conviction, she said. She described the fugitive as 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds. He has a cut scar on the outside of his right forearm, and a tattoo of a Texas flag and an M&M candy character on the outside of his upper left arm, Lyons said. He was last seen wearing prison-issue white pants and white shirt, both resembling hospital scrubs, she said. The prison is operated for the TDCJ by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. Mineral Wells is about 45 miles west of Fort Worth.

August 29, 2005 Dallas Morning News
Two inmates remained hospitalized Sunday after a fight among hundreds of inmates at the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility. Guards used tear gas Saturday night to stop the fight that involved about 200 inmates at the facility, authorities said.

August 29, 2005 Star-Telegram
About 200 inmates - some armed with broom handles, sticks and boards -- rioted at a privately run prison in Mineral Wells late Saturday and early Sunday, leaving 17 people injured, law enforcement officials said. Officials used tear gas to quell the uprising at about 4 a.m. Sunday at the prison, which is run by Corrections Corporation of America, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said. "It appears to have been race- or gang-related," Fowler said. "They generally trashed the place." The incident at the 2,100-bed pre-parole transfer unit began about 8 p.m. Saturday when several fights broke out among inmates, according to a news release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Those involved were calmed, interviewed and placed in their living areas, the release said. Then, about 9:30 p.m., several inmates in one building at the unit began fighting, and they and some from another building spilled out onto a recreation yard. More people continued to join the fights, and the fighting spread to a second recreation yard.

August 28, 2005 AP
At least a dozen people were injured when inmates rioted at a privately-run prison near Mineral Wells, law enforcement officials said. Workers at the 2,000-bed facility run by Corrections Corporation of America used tear gas to quell the uprising early Sunday morning, said Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler. Fowler said his department was called Saturday night about the riot. A Parker County special operations team and four sheriff's units stood by outside as prison personnel dealt with the situation. The sheriff's department had been told some inmates had armed themselves with boards, sticks, broom handles and broken off plumbing fixtures. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Mike Diesca told Dallas-Fort Worth television station WFAA that at least 12 people received non-life threatening injuries.

August 28, 2005 WFAA-TV
Law enforcement agencies were summoned to a disturbance at a privately-operated prison unit in Mineral Wells on Saturday night. Officials said about two dozen offenders got into a fight about 8 p.m. in the recreation yard of the Corrections Corporation of America pre-parole transfer facility on Highway 180 in the Wolters Industrial Park. There were at least 500 inmates in the yard at the time, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Mike Diesca. He said at least 12 people received non life threatening injuries. Some of the wounded were taken by helicopter ambulance to area hospitals; others were transported by ground. Diesca said the situation was under control by 2 a.m. Sunday after tear gas was used to restore order. An investigation was under way into the cause. Sheriff and police units from Parker County, Palo Pinto County, Mineral Wells and the Texas Department of Public Safety were called in to help quell the disturbance.

June 2000
Twenty-three inmates and six staff members contract E. coli after eating a gritty turkey-based chili. Kitchen hygiene has been a problem at the for-profit private prison. (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 28, 2000)

Newton County Correctional Center
Newton, Texas
GEO Group (formerly Correctional Services Corporation)
August 3, 2006 The Enterprise
Two dangerous Newton County Correction Center inmates escaped earlier this year because a watchtower guard was too intimidated to shoot, according to a tape recording obtained by The Enterprise. The guard in the tape admitted he didn't fire his weapon June 12 despite seeing prisoners Rudolfo Garcia-Lopez and Orlando Gonzalez-Leon scale the outer fence covered in barbed razor wire. The recording was of the guard, who was then terminated, and Sheriff Joe Walker, Chief Deputy Ricky Hall and an unnamed Texas Ranger. On watch in the northwest tower near Texas 87, the guard had his firearm raised but didn't pull the trigger. Walker, who conducted the taped interview, asked the guard why he didn't shoot despite being less than 80 yards from the prisoners. "My timing was slow, and I felt highly-ass intimidated," the guard said in the conversation taped on a handheld digital recorder. Walker wouldn't identify the guard because he didn't "want his name pulled through the mud." However, Walker did say the guard could have stopped the prison break before it turned into a three-night search. Garcia-Lopez and Gonzalez-Leon, both from Idaho, escaped at 6:30 p.m. While law enforcement captured Gonzalez-Leon 90 minutes later, Garcia-Lopez was on the loose for 56 hours and crossed the county line before Jasper police detained him while he pedaled a stolen bicycle through the city. "There's 16,000 people in this county that elected him sheriff to protect them," Hall said to the guard on the tape. "... From the way I look at it, you turned them loose on my family." Prison guards and jailers can respond with deadly force to prevent an inmate's attempted escape, Walker said. According to a Texas Commission on Jail Standards official, the county sheriff and the jail administrators set a jail's policy and procedure. Newton County owns the facility, but the Geo Group, a private Florida-based company, manages it. In the tape, Walker said he held the former guard responsible for the prison break. He could have shot one time as a warning, at least, Walker said, and that would have been enough to knock Garcia-Lopez and Gonzalez-Leon off the fence. "That probably would have changed their mind about what they were doing," Walker said in the taped conversation. "... My job is to put them in jail. This Texas Ranger, his job is to put them in jail. It's them jailers out there at that penitentiary who keep their butts inside those fences. I'm telling you, I hold you responsible because you should have shot them." According to sheriff's department calculations, the prison break and resulting manhunt cost at least $3,000 in deputy overtime hours, fuel, food and water. Texas Department of Public Safety and state Parks and Wildlife Department personnel also put in overtime hours. During a recent interview in his office, Walker said another guard in the southwest prison tower saw the escaped prisoners but couldn't get a shot at them without endangering another guard who was circling the perimeter in a van. "She was right" for not shooting, the sheriff said of the other guard. Walker said he had a meeting with prison supervisors, instructing them to find "weak links" who are unwilling to perform the job's entire duties, including shooting a gun to prevent a prison break. "I hold their commissions, and I will dang sure sign off on them to F-5 them. F-5 means to terminate their commission," Walker said. "I'll do it." The prison break was part of a string of episodes involving inmates since the Idaho Department of Correction transferred 419 prisoners here in March to alleviate prison overcrowding in their state. On April 7, an excessive use-of-force incident ended with a supervisor's firing, an officer's demotion and another officer's weeklong suspension without pay. Prisoners later engineered a sit-down strike, insisting on butter for rolls and better television options. And on June 4, a deputy warden resigned after an excessive use-of-force incident May 30 in which he punched an Idaho inmate, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Idaho prisoners are being transferred out to another Texas-located, Geo Group-managed facility. In their place, Newton County and the Geo Group have agreed to house 400 Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates.

August 2, 2006 Idaho Statesman
A deputy warden at a private prison in Texas resigned June 4 after punching an Idaho inmate in the jaw May 30. A state report on the incident at the prison, owned by The Geo Group Inc., corroborated claims made by an inmate and reported June 21 by the Idaho Statesman that he had been punched in the jaw and then pepper-sprayed after refusing an order from the deputy warden. "The Geo Group was very responsive after the incident," said Idaho Department of Correction spokeswoman Melinda Keckler. "We thought and they agreed that it was not an appropriate use of force and not how inmates should be treated." As first reported Tuesday on IdahoStatesman.com, the department released the report to the Statesman after a public records request. The report said the incident at the Newton County Correctional Center resulted from a lack of staff training and knowledge of company and department policy. "Basic security practices were not followed, and policy was violated in a number of areas," the report said. "The need for the reactive use of force is questionable, but it can be established that there was no need for the use of the pepper spray." The report said the deputy warden should not have directly involved himself in the disturbance but should have supervised his officers in defusing the situation. The deputy warden's and inmate's names were redacted from the report provided, but in a letter to the Idaho Statesman, inmate Randall Swink, 21, of Twin Falls, said he was punched and pepper-sprayed. He did not say when.

July 14, 2006 The Enterprise
The Idaho Department of Correction didn't approve of certain staff behavior at the Newton County Correctional Center, but in no way did it lead to 419 inmates' planned transfer, an official said Thursday. With allegations of prisoner mistreatment swirling, coupled with inmate protests and a two-man prison break since the state placed the inmates in Newton, the Idaho Department of Correction agreed to transport 419 of their inmates out of the Southeast Texas prison and into another GEO Group-managed facility, said Pam Sonnen, Idaho Department of Correction administrator of operations. The GEO Group, a private prison management company overseeing operations in Newton, approached Idaho officials about the transfer after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice contacted Newton County to ask about housing 400 more Texas inmates. The state agency's prisons were at 97.4 percent occupancy as of July 11, according to a department spokeswoman, and by the end of 2007, an estimated 1,700 additional beds will be needed. When the transfer of the Idaho inmates initially was announced Tuesday, Idaho Department of Correction Director Tom Beauclair told The Associated Press he'd become dissatisfied with the prison's ability to hire qualified staff. Sonnen said the correctional center has holdover personnel from the prison's previous management group, and those employees don't always follow the GEO Group's practices. In 2005, the GEO Group bought out Correctional Services Corp., which previously managed the Newton prison. "What I got out of our investigations was they needed to do more training with their staff to understand policies and procedures," Sonnen said. Problems arose almost immediately after Idaho agreed March 14 to send its inmates to Newton, Sonnen said. On April 7, she said, an excessive-use-of-force incident led to a supervisor's firing, another employee's demotion and suspension of an officer for a week without pay. On May 30, an inmate was doused with pepper spray, and two other Idaho inmates escaped in June. Idaho prisoners also engineered a sit-down strike demanding butter for their rolls and better television choices, privileges they'd grown accustomed to, Sonnen said.

July 12, 2006 Statesman
Idaho inmates housed at a private Texas prison that has been criticized for prisoner abuse will be moved elsewhere because the prison canceled its contract with Idaho. And more Idaho prisoners will be headed out of state soon. It's unclear where the 419 Idaho prisoners currently housed at the Newton County Correctional Center will be sent, but the private prison in Newton, Texas, notified the Idaho Department of Correction that it needs to move the prisoners to make room for Texas inmates, department spokeswoman Melinda O'Malley Keckler said Tuesday. Keckler said the decision had nothing to do with recent reports that Newton prison employees abused Idaho prisoners, but said her department agreed to the move. "The department is pleased with this change," she said. Newton Warden Priscella Miles would not comment for this article, and no one answered Tuesday evening at the Florida headquarters for the prison's parent company, the Geo Group. One correctional officer was fired, one demoted and one disciplined this spring after six Idaho inmates were forcefully cuffed and maced at Newton in April.

June 25, 2006 Spokesman Review
Continuing problems with a private Texas prison that's housing hundreds of Idaho's overflow inmates have even the head of the Idaho ACLU calling for Idaho to build more prisons. "Bottom line, we probably have to immediately start thinking about building more prisons in Idaho – which is a terrible thing for an ACLU activist to say," said Jack Van Valkenburgh, head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho. "I want my money going to schools, I don't want it going for prisons. But you've got to provide minimally adequate care." Van Valkenburgh noted that he favors sentencing reform and more drug treatment as "the way to solve the prison problem," but said Idaho is risking more crime in the future by sending its inmates to facilities like the Newton County Correctional Center in Texas. "My sense is the mentality of … this facility … doesn't have rehabilitation and reintegration into society as a goal. Idaho now has more than 400 inmates at the Newton County center, a former county jail that's now a private prison run by GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Corp. In less than three months, there have been two escapes; three prison employees disciplined after an incident in which they roughed up and sprayed pepper spray on six Idaho inmates; and a demonstration in which 85 Idaho inmates refused to return to their cells for hours in protest over conditions at the facility. A public records request to the Idaho Department of Corrections yielded a stack of complaints about the Texas lockup from inmates and their families. "We are locked in these windowless rooms for 20+ a day," one inmate wrote. "Many inmates are spending 22 hours a day on their bunks." Others complained of inattentive or abusive guards, cold food, lack of recreation and programs, and fivefold increases in the cost to families for phone calls to inmates. "This jail is so dirty and unsafe," one inmate wrote. Another wrote about the guards: "This (sic) people hate Mexicans. They made that clear to me right away. They don't like whites either."

June 21, 2006 Idaho Statesman
An Idaho inmate said he was punched in the jaw by the deputy warden of a private prison in Texas before being pepper-sprayed. Idaho Department of Correction officials said Tuesday a staff member is compiling a report about the May 30 incident and would release more information at the end of the week. The department reported the incident June 12 and sent a staff member to Texas after hearing from The Geo Group Inc., owner of the Newton County Correctional Center, that an Idaho inmate had been pepper-sprayed for refusing to leave his cell. In a letter to the Idaho Statesman received Monday, Randall Swink, 21, of Twin Falls, said he was punched and pepper-sprayed. He did not say when. The department would not say whether Swink was the inmate involved in the May 30 incident. Swink is serving two sentences for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under age 16. He said he was mouthing off to correctional officers about a dirty cup when a deputy warden asked him to leave his cell, and he refused. Swink said he was cuffed and made a sarcastic comment to the warden before the warden punched him in the jaw. Swink said he was pepper-sprayed and returned to his cell for struggling as officers tried to strip search him. The Geo Group did not return a call about the incident.

June 14, 2006 Idaho Statesman
A private prison in Texas is safe, Idaho's Department of Correction said Tuesday after a string of incidents involving Idaho prisoners. But the American Civil Liberties Union said security and living conditions at the Newton County Correctional Center are unacceptable. The ACLU wants the department to move prisoners elsewhere. One of two escaped Idaho inmates was still at large Tuesday night after a Monday night prison break. Meanwhile, 84 Idaho inmates remained in lockdown Tuesday after a Saturday protest of facility conditions, department spokeswoman Melinda Keckler said. The prison, operated by The Geo Group Inc., fired one security staff member and disciplined two others after an April incident when six Idaho prisoners were forcefully cuffed and maced. The department said staff inexperience and lack of training contributed to the excessive use of force. The prison houses 419 Idaho offenders who began arriving in March because of overcrowding in Idaho prisons. Idaho ACLU Executive Director Jack Van Valkenburgh said he is concerned with the prison's lack of security and met with Correction Department Director Tom Beauclair. Officers are poorly trained and the prison is understaffed, Van Valkenburgh said, referring to letters he has received from roughly two dozen inmates. The letters said corrections officers regularly complain of working more than 12 hours at a time, and inmates have reported up to nine hours passing without an officer in their tiers. "I have heard that there are times when inmates are having to shout and bang on the doors to get some attention," Van Valkenburgh said. "If these problems continue, I would hope the director would insist that money be spent on housing elsewhere." Other complaints received have ranged from beatings to severe overcrowding, Van Valkenburgh said. Some prisoners have been housed in 24-man, 33-by-37-foot cell tanks, he said.

June 13, 2006 Idaho Press-Tribune
A man convicted of aggravated assault and attempted kidnapping out of Canyon County escaped from a prison in Southeast Texas on Monday evening. Rudolfo Garcia-Lopez, 38, was serving a sentence of five to 20 years on the two felony charges. Prison officials said Garcia-Lopez and another inmate, 27-year-old Orlando Gonzalez-Leon, were seen going over a recreation yard fence while a disturbance took place in another area of the prison. The escape occurred about 6:30 p.m. Gonzalez-Leon was returned to custody about 90 minutes after a search of the area near the Newton County Correctional Center in Newton, Texas. Law enforcement officers in Newton County were using tracking dogs and helicopters to assist in locating Garcia-Lopez. Gonzalez-Leon is serving a 25- to 50-year sentence on a second-degree murder conviction out of Twin Falls County. The Texas facility is managed by the GEO Group Inc. At this time, 419 Idaho inmates are housed at the Newton County Correctional Center. Teresa Jones, an Idaho Correction Department spokeswoman, said the prison break occurred after guards were called to a separate wing of the prison, giving the Idaho inmates an opportunity to climb the fence. She was uncertain what caused the distraction. “There were 25 Idaho inmates outside in the recreation yard,” she said. The pair’s escape is just the latest in a string of incidents involving Idaho inmates at the prison run by Geo Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla. Idaho officials have traveled repeatedly to the former county jail in Newton to scrutinize the operation. On April 7, six Idaho inmates complained of abuse, and one supervisor was fired while another guard was demoted after an investigation. On May 30, another inmate was doused with pepper spray. And last weekend, 85 Idaho inmates staged a strike, demanding butter for rolls, more TV channels and cheaper prices at the prison commissary. Before Monday’s prison break, Pam Sonnen, administrator of operations for the Department of Correction, had said that Idaho officials were again flying to Texas to review training procedures for guards. Geo is also sending a staff member to the facility, according to a news release. “We just want to be 100 percent sure about the training provided to staff in Texas,” Sonnen said. “Use of force should always be a last resort to gain inmate compliance.” Idaho corrections officials who have been to the Texas facility said it doesn’t have the amenities of prisons in Idaho. It meets Idaho requirements, but “it’s a very different cultural atmosphere than Idaho,” said Jones, adding that disgruntled inmates unhappy with the move to Texas are one cause of the incidents.

June 9, 2006 Idaho Statesman
One correctional officer was fired, one demoted and one disciplined after six Idaho inmates were forcefully cuffed and maced at a private Texas prison in April, the Idaho Correction Department said Thursday. A report by the prison's parent company to Idaho officials said six Idaho prisoners were acting up in their cells, throwing trays, and yelling and banging against their cells when correctional officers arrived to remove them, said Pam Sonnen, the department's operations administrator. The officers had a hard time cuffing the inmates, and the situation escalated, she said. "They were taken to the ground and handcuffed, inmates were struggling, staff were struggling," Sonnen said. "It seemed from the reports that nobody was in charge, that there was no one there to say, 'Let's stop and take a breath.'" The Statesman first reported the incident last Friday. Sonnen said the improper use of force was due to inexperience and poor training, and said staffers have since received training. The prison, the Newton County Correctional Center, is owned by The Geo Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp. No medical reports showed that prisoners had been beaten or further abused, Sonnen said. But inmate Eddie Daniel said prisoners had been beaten. In a letter his sister, Fruitland resident Josie Daniel, received April 14, he said he and six other prisoners had been put in an isolation area without explanation for five days from April 3 to April 7. On the fifth day they were handcuffed, beaten and maced by 15 people, he wrote. "So these people came in ... and take turns beating us up," Daniel wrote. "And when I say beating us I mean beating us, kicking us in the face ... They went cell to cell during this." According to the letter, the beatings stopped when the warden intervened. Sonnen said Daniel had not been directly involved in the incident that got the correctional officer fired, though his sister's complaints drew the state's attention to the situation. An initial report sent by The Geo Group mentioned nothing about the use of force, nor did it say employees had been disciplined, Sonnen said. "We received a report that talked about our inmates having a disturbance," Sonnen said. "There was nothing in there to make us think anything was wrong."

June 8, 2006 Spokesman-Review
A private prison in Texas has fired a supervisor, demoted an officer from lieutenant to sergeant, suspended a prison guard and started new staff training after an April incident in which six Idaho inmates there were roughed up and sprayed with pepper spray. The state Department of Correction released that information this week only after The Spokesman-Review filed a request under the Idaho Public Records Law seeking documents about the incident. But state correction officials said they weren't trying to hide anything. "Nobody's trying to sweep anything under the carpet," said Jim Tibbs, chairman of the Idaho Board of Correction. Pam Sonnen, administrator of operations for Idaho's prison system, said, "We have no desire to hide any of this information." The incident points out one of the key disadvantages of housing state prison inmates out of state – a loss of control over the inmates by the state, corrections officials said. But with Idaho's prisons overflowing and new prisoners arriving every day, officials expect to send another 1,400 Idaho inmates out of state in the next four years. The six Idaho inmates in Texas – among 420 Idaho prisoners now at the Newton County Correctional Center – were angry over conditions at the facility, Sonnen said. On April 7, they began raising a ruckus, throwing their food trays out through slots in their cells, swearing at guards and "being disruptive." Staffers first sprayed the inmates with pepper spray and gave orders that were ignored, Sonnen said. "I think it kind of got out of hand a little bit," she said. "I don't think the staff there were ready for a group disruption." The guards then decided correctly to move the disruptive inmates elsewhere to prevent the problem from spreading, Sonnen said. "You remove them as quickly as possible from that unit … or the whole place goes up pretty quick." But the guards bungled their "use of force" in trying to subdue and move inmates, she said. "They were taking them to the ground, there was struggling going on … I don't believe that staff was properly trained," Sonnen said. The April 7 incident raised no eyebrows in the standard incident reports that arrived in Idaho from the GEO Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corp., which operates the Texas prison. But Sonnen said once she heard complaints from inmates' relatives, who received letters about the incident, she began looking into it. The GEO group sent Idaho Correction Director Tom Beauclair a report Friday detailing the results of its own investigation of the incident. "This review revealed use of force policy violations that stemmed from the supervisor on duty's failure to adequately supervise/direct the use of force," said the report, which was signed by Don Houston, senior vice president for GEO's central region.

June 2, 2006 Idaho Statesman
Correctional officers at a private Texas prison have been disciplined for abusing Idaho prisoners this spring, the state Correction Department said Thursday. At least half a dozen department employees, including department Director Tom Beauclair, flew to Texas after the department received complaints from inmates and family members, department spokeswoman Melinda Keckler said in response to an inquiry from the Idaho Statesman about allegations of abuse. The state team inspected the Newton County Correctional Center in Newton, operated by Geo Group Inc. The company disciplined security staff members in response to the team's findings, Keckler said. "We have received concerns from several parties, all in relation to one or two specific incidents in the Texas facility," Keckler said. "(Department) employees interviewed offenders and staff and observed the physical operations of the facility, and as a result of that, some corrective action was taken on some employees in Texas." Keckler said she could not describe the nature of the abuse or specify how prison employees were disciplined. The media contact for the Geo Group was on vacation and could not be reached, and the prison's warden would not comment. Keckler said the department is satisfied that the Newton prison is complying with its agreement with Idaho. The state has turned to out-of-state prisons to handle inmate overflow from Idaho's jam-packed prisons. In mid-March, 150 prisoners were moved to the Texas prison. Since then, 270 more Idaho prisoners have been transferred from the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minn. after that private prison needed to make space for more Minnesota prisoners. All out-of-state Idaho prisoners are now housed at the 872-bed Newton prison, as are prisoners from Arizona and Texas and federal immigrations and customs detainees. Josie Daniel, a 32-year-old homemaker from Fruitland, said her brother, Eddie Daniel, an Idaho inmate transferred to Texas in April, was interviewed by Correction Department employees in response to abuses he and six other prisoners suffered in early April. In a letter Josie Daniel received from her brother April 14, he said he and six other prisoners had been put in an isolation area without explanation for five days from April 3 to April 7. On the fifth day they were handcuffed, beaten and maced by 15 people, the letter claimed. "So these people came in ... and take turns beating us up," Daniel wrote. "And when I say beating us I mean beating us, kicking us in the face ... They went cell to cell during this." According to the letter, the beatings of the prisoners stopped when the warden intervened. Eddie Daniel also said food, showers and recreation time were withheld, and beatings continued after the first incident. "Even though we're in Texas, Idaho is still responsible for us," he wrote. "You need to call IDOC and let them know what's going on. Now every day they come to our cells threatening to beat us again." Josie Daniel said she contacted at least five IDOC employees, including Keckler, to report the abuse. Eddie Daniel is serving a six-year sentence for drug trafficking and had already served six months of it in Idaho, according to Josie Daniel, who served a two-year sentence herself for grand theft that she committed when she was 19. Josie Daniel said her brother had served five years in Idaho prisons for earlier crimes and never complained of mistreatment or abuse. "My brother is the kind of person that he has a lot of pride, and he's not going to ask anyone for help," Josie Daniel said. "My heart sunk when I read this letter because he is pleading for help." Keckler said the department had not received any abuse complaints at the private Minnesota facility. Idaho staffers will continue with routine checks of the Texas prison and will investigate any future complaints, she said. "Of course whenever we have charges of abuse we take them very seriously," Keckler said.

March 9, 2003
An escaped jail inmate was captured early Sunday in downtown Newton, almost exactly a week after he broke out of the Newton County Correctional Center by cutting a hole in a fence, a Beaumont television station reported. Duncan is the fifth inmate to escape from the Newton County Correctional Center since 1998, and each has been caught. (AP)

March 7, 2003
It's unclear what possessed convicted felon James Duncan to cut through a prison fence here and head for the woods, but one thing is certain: He's just as good at getting into places as he is at getting out. (The Enterprise)

March 3, 2003
Residents here were concerned, but didn't seem too surprised to learn Sunday that an inmate escaped from the Newton County Correction Center - after all, it's the fifth escape in seven years. James R. Duncan, 38, an Arizona inmate housed at the facility, escaped at approximately 2:30 a.m. Duncan was in the fourth year of a seven-year, six-month sentence for the offense of armed robbery. "They need to shut down that prison," said a resident who declined to be named, visiting the store with his small daughter in tow. "Those son of a guns are busting out like roaches," he said angrily. Another woman who also declined to give her name, complained that though the inmate escaped at 2:30, residents were not informed until after 6 a.m. After past incidents, prison officials had promised to give prompt warning of danger. Others in the store verified her statements. The prison, opened in 1991, was originally pitched to the community as a minimum-security facility, but it was found that it could not turn a profit, security measures were increased and maximum-security inmates - referred to by some as "the baddest of the bad" - were brought in. It has been a source of controversy ever since. The first and by far most dramatic escape occurred in February of 1996, when Larry Earl Pagan, a Hawaii inmate, escaped and abducted 51-year-old Wilma Parnell. Pagan made it to Mexico with Parnell, where she made a break for it. Pagan was later arrested. (The Beaumont Enterprise)

March 3, 2003
Southeast Texas law-enforcement officials were searching late Sunday for a Newton County jail escapee. Investigators said 38-year-old James R. Duncan, a state of Arizona inmate being housed in the Newton County Correctional Center, broke out about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Duncan is charged with armed robbery. He was last seen wearing a two-piece orange jail uniform with the letters "ADC" in black on the back of the shirt. Duncan is white, 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs 215 pounds and has bushy blond-brown hair and blue eyes. He had blue jeans and a black jacket on. (Houston Chronicle)

January 4, 2003
An uprising by 82 Arizona inmates at a private prison in Texas caused an estimated $15,000 in damage and lead the Department of Corrections to delay transferring more prisoners to the facility until an investigation is completed. Since November, 346 Arizona inmates have been transferred to the Newton County Correctional Center under a contract with Correctional Services Corp., which charges $38.25 a day per prisoner. On Thursday, inmates flooded dormitories, tore up mattresses, destroyed TV sets and broke windows until the prison staff fired pepper gas into the dormitories, the department said. (AP)

July 21, 1998
A convicted rapist who cut his way out of a maximum security private prison and then hitched a ride out of town was shot wounded Monday by a deputy who was trying to arrest him. Saofaiga Loa Jr., 24, a Hawaii resident incarcerated at the Newton County Correctional Center, escaped sometime before dawn, authorities said. Using an unknown tool, Loa cut his way through two security fences and was given a ride out of town, said Billy Bryan, a spokesperson for Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp., which runs the prison. (Houston Chronicle)

Nueces County Jail
Nueces County, Texas
Louisiana Correctional ServicesJuly 14, 2006 Correctional News
Concern over conditions at the Nueces County Jail resulted in the removal of 55 federal inmates — a potential loss of nearly $1 million in revenue for the county. County commissioners grew concerned after complaints of clogged plumbing, lack of water and insect bites were brought forth by inmates housed in the aging facility. Officials say that the facility requires renovations and have ordered a full report on all reported problems. The U.S. Marshals Service, which pays the county $45 per day to house federal inmates, transferred the prisoners to facilities in Aransas, Jim Wells, Victoria, Karnes, Bee and Brooks counties.

April 13, 2006 Caller-Times
The county's deal to build a $20 million detention center near Robstown is on no matter what the outcome of November's general election between sheriff candidates Jimmy Rodriguez, a Democrat, and Republican Jim Kaelin. LCS Correction Services Inc. officials said earlier this week they'd pull out if former police chief Pete Alvarez was elected as the Democrats' nominee for county sheriff in Tuesday's primary runoff, but after Rodriguez's win, the company's CEO says plans will move forward. "The dust will be flying out there in late May or early June," said Michael LeBlanc, chief executive officer. The company expressed reservations about the project after hearing ads supporting Alvarez refer to a Louisiana-based corrections firm that owns facilities where rapes and beatings occur. The ad said Rodriguez helped bring the company, which was not named in the advertisement, to the area. LCS is based in Louisiana. "We're not going to work with or for someone who doesn't respect our company," LeBlanc said Monday. "If Mr. Alvarez wins, we're out of Nueces County - plain and simple." The facility would house federal inmates awaiting trial and is expected to bring in about $800,000 for inmate transfers, plus $350,000 to $400,000 in taxes. LCS broke ground on a federal detention facility between Robstown and Driscoll last month. Alvarez said Wednesday that LSC should not have discussed the candidates leading up to the runoff, calling it unethical. "My problem is they got involved," he said. Rodriguez said last week he hoped LSC would remain committed to the Nueces County project. "We need it," he said.

April 9, 2006 KRIS TV
The company proposing a detention center in Robstown has issued an ultimatum that could effect the outcome of the Democratic runoff for sheriff. Friday evening, LCS Correctional Services confirmed to 6 News that if Pete Alvarez defeats Jimmy Rodriguez in the runoff on Tuesday, they won't build a federal detention center here in Nueces County. Thursday, company officials told 6 News they wouldn't make that kind of announcement until after the election, but they've obviously changed their minds. Here's how it works, LCS wants to house federal inmates. But those inmates technically would go through the Nueces County Jail First, before being sent to the LCS Detention Center near Robstown. The company said if there's a Nueces County Sheriff that doesn't have confidence in the LCS operation, the inmates won't be sent to the private jail and the company doesn't make money. It is the latest controversy in a race that seems to have had plenty already. "If Pete gets elected, they will pull out," said sheriff's Jimmy Rodriguez. He announced the company's ultimatum during a live debate on the cable show "South Texas Politics". He said the company's president told him that just a short time beforehand. He blames the campaign ads of Pete Alvarez that questioned LCS's history of escapes and cases of abuse. "If you had a company, and somebody attacked you and told lies about you and incited the community to turn against you, and not to want you, I don't know if I would come here either," Rodriguez said.

April 6, 2006 KRIS TV
LULAC claims a private prison company that county leaders approved poses a danger to the community. LCS Correctional Services is planning to build a large detention center in western Nueces County. Leaders of LULAC Thursday called it a bad move, but supporters of the project said the complaint is merely for political gain in the runoff election next week. At the news conference Thursday afternoon, the president of LULAC said the community is tired of all the mudslinging in the sheriff's race. But moments later she questioned one candidate's involvement in what LULAC considers a deal that threatens public safety. "We want to bring public attention to a potentially dangerous situation brewing in Nueces County," said Nancy Vera. That situation is a federal detention center being built between Robstown and Driscoll. Officials broke ground on it back in February, but LULAC President Nancy Vera says LCS has a history the public should know about. "We have discovered some very disturbing information." Vera said. She claims LCS Correctional services has experienced numerous escapes and cases of prisoner abuse. Vera is asking the commissioners court and in particular Jimmy Rodriguez why those issues were never discussed. 6 News asked Jimmy Rodriguez if he felt LCS was a legitimate company. Rodriguez replied, "I think LCS spoke for themselves. They're a reputable company." Rodriguez said the idea that he had any direct involvement in the LSC contract is completely misleading. He said it's just a political attack on a company trying to make a large investment in the area. "$20 million investing, 300 jobs, this is good for the economy, and to have it all put in jeopardy because of incompetency is tragic," Rodriguez said. "The commissioners court met with LCS, reviewed LCS, and awarded LCS. They thought it was a good thing. They handled the contract."

April 5, 2006 Caller-Times
The latest political mudfest in the race for Nueces County sheriff is originating in Pete Alvarez's political camp. Alvarez's new "Bad Jimmy" television ads, claim that his opponent Jimmy Rodriguez is responsible for the recent erroneous release of six jail inmates and that Rodriguez is responsible for a series of lawsuits filed against Nueces County over problems with the jail. Another Alvarez ad has raised questions about whether a Louisiana prison administrator might ditch a plan to build a detention facility in the county. The ad doesn't name the company in question, but says a Louisiana-based company the county has contracted with has an unsatisfactory record with the treatment of its inmates. The ad is aimed at the sheriff's department's administration for its advocacy of the company. Last month LCS Correction Services Inc. broke ground on a federal detention facility between Robstown and Driscoll. The facility, under contract with Nueces County, is expected to bring in about $800,000 for inmate transfers, plus $350,000 to $400,000 in taxes. A statement released by the company said the owners were upset by the ad. "We admit the operations of prisons do not create a perfect world because we deal daily with imperfect people," Chief Executive Officer Michael LeBlanc said in the statement. "But there has never been a death or a suicide at any LCS Corrections facility in the Company's 16-year history." Company officials refused to comment on whether the ad has now jeopardized the plans to build the corrections facility, saying it might unfairly impact the election. Nueces County Precinct 4 Commissioner Chuck Cazalas said he didn't understand why Alvarez's ad targeted Rodriguez for something former Sheriff Larry Olivarez championed. He also said everything he knew about LCS indicated they were a quality firm. "I think they are supposed to be a good company. Everything I heard about them was pretty good," Cazalas said. "I understand . . . that the company is supposedly thinking of pulling out." Alvarez said his ads are a response to ads Rodriguez is running. The Rodriguez campaign says they did not fire the first negative campaign volley, but they are preparing to fire back, with new ads targeting Alvarez's record as police chief. "Pete's radio spot hitting on jail releases was first," said Rodriguez's campaign consultant Jeff Butler. "We had a response saying, 'No it's not true.' He hit us first, so we responded and it went from there." Alvarez denied that his team was first on the assault. "I tried my best to keep a professional and clean campaign and they decided to throw the garbage out," he said. "And we have to defend ourselves. This is not something we initiated from the beginning. The public needs to understand that what is being said about me is simply not true." The Rodriguez campaign contends that ads they are running against Alvarez are "infomercials" based on research and news stories outlining Alvarez's record that have run on television and in the newspaper in the past, Butler said. Butler said the Rodriguez camp is not responsible for an anti-Alvarez flier mailed in February by political action committee Citizens for Nueces County that may have sparked some of the rancor in the campaign. The flier said Alvarez was more than a million dollars over budget as police chief in 2001, that he tried to cover up an incident where his son was driving drunk, that he had been sued for misconduct and retaliation and that he had plagiarized a strategic plan. Butler said Tuesday the campaign also did not put out a new flier that came out this week saying Alvarez treats women like second-class citizens. The flier cites a Caller-Times article about a grievance filed by female Corpus Christi police officers, who said Alvarez had "relegated them to second-class status." Alvarez would not comment on specific allegations Tuesday but reiterated that neither flier is true. The only member of the political action committee listed in campaign filings is Roland Gaona, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Though Alvarez and Rodriguez would not take responsibility for throwing the first mud, both campaigns said Tuesday they are prepared to duke it out to the last - the April 11 runoff. Rodriguez said he hopes the nastiness won't get any worse. Butler nodded in response to whether he thought the campaign would get any nastier and nodded again that the Rodriguez team is ready for battle. "I knew the only way they could win was to go negative on us," Butler said. "Especially after the primary when Pete only got 40 percent. Everybody knew who Pete was. His 40 percent told me that 60 percent of the voters were voting against him." Alvarez said future ads from his camp will come from watching what Rodriguez does and then responding. "We have to strategize," Alvarez said. "This is a campaign, a political campaign. We have to defend ourselves, or the public will begin to believe the nonsense his campaign has come out with."

Oaks Treatment Center
Austin, Texas
Browns Schools
August 28, 2003
The parents of two girls who said their children were raped at a treatment center for troubled youth have sued the center. In a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in state District Court in Travis County, the girls' mothers accuse the Oaks Treatment Center of being negligent in appointing a 19-year-old man to supervise the shower and dormitory facilities for teenage girls. The center also failed to properly screen, hire and supervise employees and did not provide enough security and safeguards for patients, the lawsuit contends. "It's a lot worse because these girls were there to get help for emotional and psychological issues," said John Thomas, a lawyer representing one of the girls. "And it's kind of like a boat coming up on a castaway on the ocean and throwing them a life-preserver with rocks in it." The center, at 1407 W. Stassney Lane in South Austin, is part of the Brown Schools, a network of therapeutic programs for troubled children found throughout the United States. The Brown School Behavioral Health System, its owners, McCown De Leeuw & Co. and Psychiatric Solutions Inc. -- a Tennessee company that owns the Oaks Treatment Center -- also have been sued. Representatives for the company could not be reached for comment. Wednesday's lawsuit is not the first time the Brown Schools has been surrounded by controversy. Chase Moody, a 17-year-old who was enrolled in a camp in Mason County, died Oct. 14 after he was restrained by at least three camp staff members because of what the company described as a violent outburst. The On Track program was cited for 28 violations of state standards in connection with Moody's death. The company appealed. A criminal investigation is ongoing. Edward Johnson, the 19-year-old man named in the lawsuit, pleaded guilty in one of the cases in state District Court in June to indecency with a child by contact, a second-degree felony, and was sentenced to five years in prison. The second case is still pending. The girls' names and the names of their mothers were withheld because of the nature of the crime. Howard Falkenberg, a spokesman for the Brown Schools, said the company would study the lawsuit. "We regret any time there's an accusation or an incident of this type" Falkenberg said. "These matters aren't always quite as they seem, so you have to be careful in working them through." The lawsuit claims officials at the Oaks Treatment Center lied to one of the mothers, who lives in Alaska, when they told her that no current or former Oaks employes had ever had a history of physical or sexual abuse and that there had been no abuse at the Oaks or any of the Brown Schools. Those statements were false, the lawsuit contends, because at least one former employee of the Oaks had a history of committing physical and sexual abuse and youths had been abused at the Brown Schools' facilities. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for mental anguish and medical expenses but does not specify an amount. (American-Statesman)

June 20, 2003
The owners of a Hill Country wilderness camp where a teenager died in October have filed a pre-emptive legal strike in an attempt to avoid litigation by the boy's family and to keep the case in Mason County. The Brown Schools, a Delaware corporation with operations based in Austin, filed a petition in state District Court in Mason County earlier this month, asking a judge to rule that any dispute over the death of 17-year-old Chase Moody at the On Track therapeutic wilderness program be turned over to a binding arbitration panel. The court filing, which names Chase's mother and father as defendants, says the family agreed to as much in a contract signed by Chase's mother before the teen was enrolled in the camp. Lawyers for the Brown Schools, which operates youth-oriented therapeutic programs across the country, filed the petition June 6 -- the same day they met with the Moodys' lawyers, who include Johnnie Cochran, the high-profile attorney who successfully defended O.J. Simpson. David McLaughlin, a lawyer in the Cochran Firm who is working on the case, called the Brown Schools' petition premature because the family has not sued. "We're (still) weighing our options," he said Thursday. Howard Falkenberg, the Brown Schools' spokesman in Austin, said company officials were aware that the Moodys are considering legal action and filed the petition to make clear their opinion that any dispute with the family should be handled outside the courtroom. Should a judge disagree, Falkenberg said, the company at least wanted to establish grounds for the case to be considered in Mason County. "That's where the admissions agreement was signed, and that's where his management was, and that's where his unfortunate death occurred," Falkenberg said. "All those things just seem to argue that that's where the matter should be handled." Chase, who lived with his mother in Richardson, was sent to the camp to work out anger issues and other behavioral problems. He died there Oct. 14 after being physically restrained by at least three camp staff members because of what the company said was a violent outburst. According to an autopsy, Chase suffocated on his own vomit, a report disputed by the Brown Schools. Officials with the company have repeatedly said their staff acted appropriately in handling the situation. State investigators disagree and have accused the staff members involved of physical abuse in connection with the death. The state also cited the camp for 28 violations of state standards after a licensing investigation of the incident. The staff members are appealing the findings, as is the Brown Schools, even though the company closed the camp for unrelated reasons shortly after Chase's death. He was the fifth youth to die after being restrained in the company's Texas facilities since 1988. (Austin American-Statesman)

February 14, 2003
The Brown Schools, the Tennessee-based company whose Texas centers for troubled teens have been cited by authorities in the deaths of several youths, announced Thursday that it will sell its behavioral health-care business for $63 million. Texas centers in the deal include the Oaks Treatment Center in Austin , the San Marcos Treatment Center and the Laurel Ridge Hospital in San Antonio . All treat emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and adolescents. In the sale, three residential treatment centers in Virginia, Colorado and Oklahoma will be turned over to Psychiatric Solutions Inc., a publicly traded company also based in Tennessee. Dallas . In the past two decades, some of its operations have come under scrutiny by various states and law enforcement agencies because of restraint-related deaths and licensing and human rights' violations. Most recently, 17-year-old Chase Moody of Richardson died in October after being restrained at the company's now-closed Hill Country wilderness camp in Mason County . The incident is the subject of a criminal investigation. Since 1988, five youths, including Moody, have died after being restrained while in the Brown Schools' care. Two of the deaths occurred at the Laurel Ridge facility in San Antonio . The other two occurred at facilities that have since been sold by the company. In addition, the Brown Schools of Virginia facility has been cited more than 100 times for human rights and licensing violations since it opened in January 2001. Some of the accusations were that staff members used unnecessary physical restraints, acted physically aggressive, punished residents by refusing to let them use the bathroom and injected residents with medication to control them before exhausting other de-escalation options. In one case, a staff member was accused of grabbing a boy by the neck, throwing him to the ground and threatening to kill him. (American-Statesman)

March 12, 2002
Police are looking for a man charged in the rape of a 16-year-old girl at a treatment center for troubled youth. Alexander Johnson, 51, is charged with sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony that could bring a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. A warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday, but authorities had not found him as of late Monday. The alleged assault is said to have taken place last month at the Oaks Treatment Center, where the girl was a patient. The center, at 1407 W. Stassney Lane in South Austin, is part of the Brown Schools, a system that operates in 10 states and Puerto Rico and is devoted to helping troubled children. Johnson was a desk counselor at the center, which treats and houses about 70 children. The girl was receiving psychiatric treatment, officials at the center said. Johnson was arrested in 1995 and was accused of beating his adolescent son. The charges were dismissed after he attended parenting classes. Officials at the center said they were unaware of the prior arrest. Allegations of misconduct and abuse are fairly common at the center, but this is the first time police have filed charges of sexual abuse, said Mack Wigley, director of the center. "We suspend employees all the time," Wigley said. (Austin American-Statesmen)

On Track
Mason, Texas
January 9, 2003
A Mason County wilderness camp where a Dallas-area teenager died in October will relinquish its operating license and forgo any plans to reopen, state and camp officials said Wednesday. In December, however, the parks department canceled the lease and gave the camp 120 days to vacate the property. Diane Huggins, a spokeswoman for the Brown Schools, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company that owns and operates On Track, said recent efforts to persuade parks officials to reconsider have been unsuccessful. Both parks officials and Huggins said troubles with the lease started before 17-year-old Charles Chase Moody died after being physically restrained by three camp counselors Oct. 14. Investigators with the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, the agency with authority over wilderness camps and youth-oriented residential treatment centers, have accused the staff members of physical abuse and neglect in connection with Moody's death. Moody's death is also the focus of a criminal investigation. (The Hutchinson News)

Reeves County Detention Center
Pecos, Texas
GEO Group
January 20, 2005 Odessa American
GEO Group, which manages Reeves County Detention Center, has hired a former member of the Texas Boards of Pardons and Paroles as the new warden for Reeves County Detention Center 1 and 2. Tony Garcia started work Wednesday at RCDC 1 and 2 in Pecos. Garcia was with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division from 1980 to 2001. He was then appointed to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by Gov. Rick Perry in 2001 and served as chief commissioner. Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski said an investigation continues into tampering with government documents at the Reeves County Detention Center. The Texas Rangers have also confirmed other investigations. Along with the Texas Rangers, the FBI is also involved in the multiagency probe.

January 6, 2005 Odessa American
Two Reeves County corrections officers have resigned over sexual molestation charges. Sheriff Arnulfo “Andy” Gomez said he investigated claims by inmates at the prison at the request of Detention Center III Warden Martin McDaniel. Agapita Martinez, 31, was indicted for improper sexual activity with a person in custody. According to the indictment, while a corrections officer at RCDC III, Martinez “intentionally engage(d) in sexual contact” with a male inmate “by touching the genitals” of the inmate “with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire” of the defendant. Roque Ybarra, 29, was charged with the same offense and has bonded out, but has not been indicted, according to the District Clerk’s Office.

January 4, 2005 Odessa American
Under Texas’ “Doctrine of Forgiveness,” Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo can’t be removed from office for acts he supposedly committed before his re-election in 2003, a district court judge has ruled. Galindo and former county commissioners Felipe Arredondo and Herman Tarin are accused of acts of official misconduct and acts of incompetence. The forgiveness doctrine, which Parks said has always been part of state law, prohibits an official’s removal from office for acts committed in a previous term in office. According to the order issued by Parks, the only grounds for removal is the decision by the Reeves County Commissioners Court in the summer of 2001 to build the 960-bed Reeves County Detention Center III. According to the suit, Hanks wants: * Commissioners to nullify a contract with Washington, D.C., lobbyist Randy DeLay, brother of House Majority Leader U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay. Randy DeLay was hired to help Reeves County lobby to get more federal inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons. * Reinstate employees moved to jobs with the Reeves County Detention Center from other county offices. RCDC has three units — R1 and 2 house inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons and unit 3 houses inmates from the State of Arizona. GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut, manages the prison for the county, which owns the facility. Hanks’ lawsuit also claims Galindo and commissioners built Reeves County Detention Center Unit 3 knowing it would not get inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons, leading to the near financial ruin of the county. The suit also claims nepotism on the part of Galindo, conflict of interest and refusal to provide public information. The Texas Rangers have confirmed that there are several investigations going on in Reeves County, but Lt. Bob Bullock said he could not comment further. Along with the Texas Rangers, the FBI is also involved in the multiagency probe, Bullock said.

December 14, 2004 Odessa American
An Austin law firm will represent Reeves County in a lawsuit seeking removal of the county judge and two commissioners from office. Allison, Bass and Associates LLP was retained by Reeves County earlier this month, County Judge Jimmy Galindo said. Robert L. Hanks of Pecos filed the suit in 143rd District Court to remove Galindo and commissioners Felipe Arredondo and Herman Tarin for mismanagement of the Reeves County Detention Center and financial irregularities, among other claims. Arredondo, representing Precinct 1, lost his bid for re-election and Tarin, representing Precinct 3, did not run again. Along with these actions, Hanks wants: Galindo to stop all nonessential spending. Commissioners to nullify a contract with Washington, D.C., lobbyist Randy DeLay, brother of House Majority Leader U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay. Randy DeLay was hired to help Reeves County lobby to get more federal inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons. The suit also asks that county employees moved to the prison be reinstated to their former jobs. At Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved paying Randy DeLay $93,953 owed to him.

August 12, 2004
District Judge Bob Parks on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by a Pecos resident to remove Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo and two county commissioners from office. Filed in 143rd District Court by Robert L. Hanks, the suit alleges Galindo and commissioners built Reeves County Detention Center unit 3 knowing that it would not get inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons, leading to the near financial ruin of the county. It also claims nepotism on the part of Galindo, conflict of interest and refusal to provide public information. The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning Hanks could refile it. “I’m not surprised at all because I know how he (Parks) works.” The lawsuit alleges: Commissioners built Reeves County Detention Center Unit 3 knowing it would not get inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons, leading to the near financial ruin of the county. It also claims nepotism on the part of Galindo, conflict of interest and refusal to provide public information. William W. Nelson, chief of privatized corrections contracting with the Bureau of Prisons, wrote a letter to Galindo in response to his visit of June 14, 2001. The visit was to tell the Bureau of Prisons of Reeves County’s “intention to build more prison housing in Reeves County, Texas.” “We appreciate the information you have shared with us and have notified the appropriate bureau staff. Although the bureau cannot make an absolute commitment at this time, should the need arise to house additional federal offenders in Texas, your facility will be given the opportunity for consideration,” the letter said. The suit also said Galindo, Tarin, Arredondo and former commissioner David Castillo knew there would not be adequate workforce in town to operate the prison because the completing date was set for a year-and-a-half after the closing of the former Anchor Foods plant. But Galindo, Tarin, Arredondo and Castillo built the $40 million prison “with no inmates, no employees and no way to pay the payments except for the general fund of Reeves County,” the lawsuit said. “And to make matters even worse, defendants Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo and these defendant commissioners removed the $4 million Reeves County had in savings as financial backup for the Reeves County prison system. These funds were used to pay the cost overruns and mistakes in the construction of Reeves County Detention Center II. These facts were know to (Galindo and commissioners) before the start of construction on Reeves County Detention Center III,” In November 2003, the county hired GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut, to run the RCDC on a 10-year contract. Hanks also claims he was refused public information under the Texas Open Records Act by Galindo and his secretary, Sylvia Garcia; that Galindo violated state nepotism law by having his mother and a distant cousin, Randy Baeza, hired at the prison; and that he has a conflict of interest doing business with a cousin. The suit further charges that Galindo transferred their budgeted salaries back into the general fund to help pay for a Washington lawyer and lobbyist to encourage the Bureau of Prisons to send more inmates to RCDC 3, get better salaries for prison staff and better reimbursement for housing inmates. (Odessa American)

May 26, 2004
Despite several large fights and riots at two out-of-state private prisons in the last several weeks, state officials say they have no plans to reverse course and bring home any of the 2,000 inmates in Texas and Oklahoma. On Saturday, more than 40 inmates in a Pecos, Texas, prison owned by the Geo Group created a disturbance, damaging the prison. Earlier this month, about 70 inmates were injured in a fracas at Corrections Corporation of America's Watonga, Okla., prison. The two recent events are in addition to a hunger strike and large fight in the Pecos prison and problems in 2002 at another private Texas prison, which included several inmate escapes while a state review found an unacceptable quality of service from the company. About 240 inmates participated in a fight in the Watonga prison yard, with at least 70 suffering injuries. (AP)

May 2, 2004
Groups of Arizona prisoners transferred to a Texas private prison staged fights and hunger strikes to either improve conditions or earn transfers back to Arizona. The incident report from Wackenhut Corp.'s Pecos, Texas, prison officials recommends eight inmates be sent back to Arizona because they are security problems. The report details a fight between two groups of prisoners, with at least 14 taking part in the late-night April 10 fight. The subsequent investigation showed that some inmates from each group were conspiring to get back to Arizona. The decision last year by the Arizona Legislature to ship about 2,000 inmates to out-of-state prisons angered some inmate family members, mainly because contact with inmates will be limited by the financial ability to travel to either Texas or another prison in Oklahoma. (Arizona Daily Star)

November 22, 2003
Reeves County’s pending contract with Wackenhut Corrections Corp. to run the Reeves County Detention Center is one of the items on the agenda for the Reeves County Commission meeting set for 10 a.m. Monday. Commissioners approved an agreement with the Boca Raton, Fla., company to run the RCDC Nov. 3. One of the conditions of the 10-year contract was to cut prison employees from 414 to 344. Don Houston, vice president of Wackenhut’s Central Division in New Braunfels, said Friday no further layoffs are planned in the near term. An amendment to the county’s agreement with Wackenhut is up for commission approval as well that would reduce Wackenhut’s management fee, Houston said. It is currently $333,333 a month. He would not say how much of a fee reduction was offered, but that it was “substantial.” (OA Online)

November 17, 2003
With layoffs pending at the Reeves County Detention Center, local agencies are prepared to help affected workers. The Pecos Technical Training Center of Odessa College and Pecos Workforce Network plan to go to the prison sometime next week to let laid-off workers know about available services. “We as a campus here in Pecos along with some other agencies will try to get involved in the layoff process. We will provide financial aid services and admissions services. We plan to sit with them and complete the applications,” said Michelle Workman, campus director of Pecos Technical Training Center. Reeves County Commissioners approved a contract with Wackenhut Corrections Corp. of Boca Raton, Fla., on Nov. 3 to manage the RCDC. One of the conditions of the 10-year contract was to cut prison employees from 414 to 344. County Judge Jimmy Galindo could not be reached for comment. A call to the RCDC was referred to Galindo as well. RCDC has three units with 3,025 beds, but the third unit, RCDC-3, is largely empty. The prison houses mostly inmates from the federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshal Service. The 344 — the number of positions the Bureau of Prisons requires to run the facility — includes a management team which would work for Wackenhut consisting of the warden, assistant warden, deputy warden, department heads and key positions with fiduciary responsibility. It wasn’t clear how many people would be laid off or when. But people in the community have known for two to three weeks that the layoffs were coming, Workman said. Elva Arreguy, manager of Pecos Workforce Network, said her agency will offer information on job searching. Arreguy said the agency conducts job-search workshops and can help get aid for workers if they want to train for something else. “We will provide the same rapid response we do for anyone who becomes dislocated,” Arreguy said. She added that the Department of Human Services will probably be on hand as well to let workers know what services that agency has available. Those laid off would be given a chance at other jobs at Wackenhut prisons, but they wouldn’t necessarily be paid the same wage. Wackenhut designs, builds, finances and operates prisons worldwide. It operates 11 facilities in Texas and has a prison in Hobbs, N.M. Some $89 million in certificates of participation bonds were sold to pay for the prison. The third unit was financed with the proceeds of 2001 certificates of participation. The bonds were downgraded Sept. 3 to BB and on Monday were lowered to CCC by Fitch Ratings in New York City. The Bureau of Prisons never committed to putting inmates in the third RCDC unit, according to a press release from Fitch Ratings. “While discussions with BOP are ongoing, the continuing delay causes Fitch to be skeptical that the prior relationship between RCDC and BOP will resume anytime soon, and the positive nature of that relationship was a key rating factor. …” the news release said. CCC ratings indicate a high default risk, according to the release. If Wackenhut or the county were successful in improving occupancy at RCDC, the rating would be reviewed at a later date, the release said. (OA Online)

August 29, 2003
A bid to make money by jailing federal prisoners may end with a West Texas county losing its jail and defaulting on a $40 million bond note. Reeves County counted on the federal Bureau of Prisons to pay it to house up to 3,000 illegal immigrants by this fall, but the bureau says it never made any promises. The county now owes $475,000 on its first loan payment for a jail expansion completed in March. Failing to pay by Sept. 1 means the county could lose all three buildings making up the Reeves County Detention Center because the county used two older buildings for collateral. "Hundreds of jobs will be lost and our local economy will be destroyed," county Judge Jimmy Galindo wrote in a letter this summer to President Bush, asking him to intervene with the Bureau of Prisons. About 500 people work at the jail in Pecos, more than 200 miles east of El Paso, making it the county's single largest employer. The jail can house up to 3,000 inmates; the expansion added 960 beds. Galindo has said the county built the third jail building based on Bureau of Prisons projections that the federal government would need to house 175,000 inmates in jails across the country by September 2003. The bureau already relies on Reeves County to house 2,043 federal inmates, mostly low-security "criminal aliens," spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said. "We made it clear to them we could make no promises or commitments," to house more inmates, she said. County Commissioner Felipe Arredondo said while the county would continue to negotiate with the bureau, commissioners must look for other customers. He said county officials are talking with the U.S. Marshals service about holding prisoners arrested in Arizona and West Texas. However, Michael Troyanski, with the U.S. Marshals Service in El Paso, said the agency won't guarantee a specific number. "We are not going to commit," Troyanski said. "The prisoner population is fluid, it goes up and down with the tide." Other possible sources, Arredondo said, are illegal immigrants awaiting deportation by the Department of Homeland Security and Arizona state prisoners. Arizona's prisons exceed capacity by about 4,000 inmates, said Jim Robideau, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections. The department considered the Reeves County jail about a month ago, he said, but wasn't aware of any negotiations or a pending agreement. Galindo maintains the county charges less than anyone else in the nation to house prisoners, $47.33 a day per inmate, and doesn't understand why the federal government would choose other jails. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne said location, not cost, is the reason. "We don't have an immediate need for beds in the South-Central region," he said. Arredondo said the county would need a commitment of 600 additional prisoners to make it's payment. He wouldn't discuss what would happen if the county failed to get such a contract. "We haven't even looked at that because I don't think it's coming," he said. If the county misses the payment, the bond holders could put the jail up for sale or hire a private company to run it. The nation's largest for-profit prisons operator, Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, is one company closely watching the situation, said Laurie Shanblum, CCA senior director for business development. Increased border security and more arrests for drug and immigration violations since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has made West Texas attractive to companies like CCA, she said. "Our current philosophy is very conservative," she said. "We wouldn't get involved without strong assurances that there is light at the end of the tunnel. "Some Reeves County residents have criticized commissioners for spending $120,000 to hire House Majority leader Tom DeLay's brother, Randy, to lobby the Bureau of Prisons. Arredondo said the county must compete with national firms such as CCA in lobbying the government for business. "We've always been struggling. It's not an easy task," Arredondo said. "We built (the jail) so we can employ people and Pecos won't blow away. ... It just goes with being in West Texas and not having any big factories or industries." (AP)

Rolling Plains Regional Jail and Detention Center
Haskell, Texas
Emerald Corrections
April 18, 2006 AP
Two Wyoming inmates have been recaptured after escaping from a Texas jail over the weekend, according to the Wyoming Department of Corrections. Joe Wilkinson, 41, gave himself up about two hours after the escape Saturday and didn't get very far from the Rolling Plains Regional Jail and Detention Center in Haskell, Texas, corrections spokeswoman Melinda Brazzale said Monday. Robert Dix, 25, was arrested Sunday night, about 34 hours after the escape. He, too, didn't get far from the prison. Haskell is about 50 miles north of Abilene, Texas. Wyoming keeps many of its inmates there because it doesn't have enough room for them at prisons in Wyoming.

Rolling Plains Technical Foundation
Sweetwater, Texas
Texson
December 3, 2000
Leslie Broadwell isn't bitter that she lost her job right before Thanksgiving with only one weeks notice. Actually she spoke quite respectfully of her former employer who recently filed for bankruptcy. When the adult drug-rehabilitation facility here was shut down they were told that they would receive there checks the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. When they failed to arrive they were told that they would receive them the day after Thanksgiving. They also failed to come then either. Then they were told that they won't be paid for there lat two weeks of work because their former employer, Texson Management Group Inc. of Austin filed for bankruptcy. In its bankruptcy claim, which was filed Nov. 20 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Texson listed nearly $5 million in claims from 20 of its largest unsecured creditors. Texson representatives have refused to return numerous calls by The Avalanche-Journal seeking comment. In addition, about 80 others were left without jobs in October when Texson pulled out of a Juvenile facility it also managed in Sweetwater. Most of the people from the adult facility have copies of their last time card. They're still hoping to receive their final paycheck. (The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Dec 2, 2000)

San Antonio Jail
San Antonio, Texas
GEO Group
October 21, 2004 Express News
The Justice Department is reviewing a local case against the Texas Mexican Mafia to determine whether it warrants a death-penalty prosecution against one of its alleged generals. The development, revealed for the first time Wednesday, puts lawyers for Jimmy "Panson" Zavala, 35, on notice that, if the Justice Department certifies the case for death-penalty prosecution, they'll be fighting for his life. Also revealed Wednesday was a foiled escape attempt by alleged gang members, including Zavala, at the San Antonio jail run by the GEO Group, which holds pretrial federal inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service. The Sept. 18 attempt, which resulted in the beating of a guard, prompted the Marshals Service to split up several alleged members, including Zavala, and send them to other jails in the area.

August 11, 2004
A private corrections company has agreed to pay more than $98,000 to settle a civil-rights lawsuit alleging negligence by staff at a San Antonio jail led to an inmate giving premature birth. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery today finalized the agreement — which was reached months before and preceded a ruling by another judge that would have given the former Wackenhut Corrections Corp. the victory in the suit filed in 2002 by Melissa Villarreal. Villarreal, 32, was incarcerated at the company's jail downtown in 2001 on federal charges that she violated conditions of the probation she got for drunken driving on Randolph Air Force Base. Her lawsuit claimed the jail denied her adequate medical care, which resulted in the premature birth of her son, Logan Daniel Flores, who weighed 1 pound and six ounces when he was born at University Hospital on Nov. 7, 2001. The suit alleged he had medical complications that continue today, and that Villarreal was denied to see the boy or provide him with milk after he was born. This February, U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Mathy noted the company documented that it gave Villarreal adequate medical attention during her pregnancy. The judge also noted that, because the infant was never in the jail's care, the company could not have violated the child's constitutional rights. The judge granted the corrections company summary judgment, which would have dismissed the case, but Mathy wasn't aware a settlement had been negotiated before she ruled, said Villarreal's lawyer Frank Menchaca. "This was plan B just in case the summary judgments did get granted against us, and that is exactly what happened," Menchaca said. (Express-News)

Smith County Jail
Smith County, Texas
Corplan/Correctional Services Corporation
November 7, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
Smith County commissioners picked Lee Lewis Construction Inc. of Lubbock, along with Dallas architects Wiginton Hooker Jeffry PC, with which to enter into negotiations for the design and construction of a new Smith County Jail. In Monday's meeting of the Smith County Commissioners Court, Commissioner JoAnn Hampton explained that the three private firms that responded to the recent Request for Proposals were evaluated according to a specific set of criteria. The next highest was Correctional Services Corporation, with a score of 55, she said. Hale-Mills received 51 points. The court, with Gary's help, also looked at the potential legal entanglements of each of the three firms, after they were forced to reject an early RFP due to the legal troubles of bidder CorPlan.

September 1, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
Smith County commissioners on Tuesday could vote to put a bond referendum for a new criminal justice complex on the Nov. 8 ballot, County Judge Becky Dempsey confirmed Thursday. Commissioners have not yet picked a specific proposal, but have three to choose from, she said. The prices in those proposals from private firms range from $46.52 million to $55.71 million. "We have some preliminary numbers already, and I'm working with our bond counsel on exact wording," Judge Dempsey said. "We have to fill in some blanks, but I'm hopeful we can do that in the jail workshop on Tuesday." Also, all three of the firms that submitted proposals failed to provide the disclosure of their legal troubles commissioners wanted; they've been asked to provide that information to the county by Friday. Any firm that fails to do so presumably would be considered out of the running.

August 25, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
If the instructions weren't explicit enough before, Smith County officials say, they'll make it perfectly clear: The private firms offering proposals to build a new jail complex must disclose all their legal troubles immediately. Assistant District Attorney Michael Gary will send a letter on Friday, he told attendees at a public hearing on the jail that county commissioners held in Lindale on Thursday. Smith County officials are wary of such lawsuits because in July, they threw out a proposal by Corplan Corrections for a new facility after learning of a growing scandal in Willacy County. Their vote was not based on the bribery-related convictions of three county officials there, but on the "contingent liability" of a lawsuit filed in May against Corplan and Hale-Mills Construction by Willacy County. They wish to avoid any more such surprises, they say. The private proposals were one issue that emerged at the public hearing attended by more than two dozen citizens at the county offices in Lindale. Sheriff J.B. Smith began the hearing with a brief presentation on jail overcrowding, followed by County Judge Becky Dempsey explaining what overcrowding is doing to the county's finances.

August 24, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
A general partner of Hale-Mills Construction says his firm's proposal to build a criminal justice complex for Smith County is in full compliance with the county's request for proposals, and that a lawsuit filed by Willacy County alleging that his firm conspired to bribe officials there will soon "dry up and blow away." Smith County commissioners have expressed concern that not one of the five proposals submitted last week included the disclosure about lawsuits and criminal charges that they asked for in the request for proposals. And all five lead firms have either sued or been sued over construction projects or jail operations in that period. The merit of the lawsuits filed by or faced by each of the companies is not the issue, county commissioners say; it's that they didn't tell the county about the lawsuits when asked in the RFPs. In July, Smith County threw out a proposal by Corplan Corrections for a new facility after they learned of a growing scandal in Willacy County. Their vote was not based on the bribery-related convictions of three county officials there, but on the "contingent liability" of a lawsuit filed in May against Corplan and Hale-Mills by Willacy County. The lawsuit claims that Corplan and Hale-Mills conspired to bribe county commissioners, to be selected for a $14.5 million project.

August 22, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
The most recent round of proposals for a new Smith County jail and sheriff's office are in, with private firms offering to build and run a new facility for sums ranging from $46.52 million to $55.71 million for construction, and $31.65 to $45.51 per day, per prisoner for privatized operations. But Hale-Mills Construction, a firm linked to a South Texas prison project scandal, has apparently submitted a proposal that doesn't disclose that the firm is being sued by Willacy County. That county alleges that Hale-Mills and Corplan Corrections conspired to bribe Willacy County officials in order to win a project. Smith County commissioners in July threw out a proposal by Corplan Corrections for a new facility after they learned of a growing scandal in Willacy County. Their vote was not based on the bribery-related convictions of three county officials there, but on the "contingent liability" of a lawsuit filed in May against Corplan and Hale-Mills by Willacy County. The lawsuit claims that Corplan and Hale-Mills conspired to bribe county commissioners, in order to be selected for a $14.5 million project. Smith County commissioners added extra language to their new Request for Proposals to avoid any more such surprises. "List all criminal charges, lawsuits or alternative dispute resolutions to which Respondent is a party or has been a party in the past five years and the nature of the issue," the county's RFP reads. "Indicate if and how each was resolved." No such disclosure about the Willacy County lawsuit appears to be in the Hale-Mills proposal packet.

June 27, 2005 Tyler Paper
It's no longer a choice between public and private, Smith County officials say - it's a matter of combining the best of both to come up with a workable solution to jail overcrowding. In Monday's jail workshop session, county commissioners agreed in principle that a new jail should be publicly financed, privately built and run by the county. County Judge Becky Dempsey added, "It's more cost effective for us to do our own financing." That's because generally, government entities can borrow money more cheaply. Corplan, when discussing financing the facility itself, cited an interest rate of 5.125 percent. Smith County, on the other hand, could get an interest rate of 4.8 percent or less. Over the 20-year life of millions of dollars worth of bonds, that extra point of interest would add up. "Just a slight difference in interest rates over 20 years could prove quite costly," Judge Dempsey said.

December 9, 2002
A private jail contractor drew interest and skepticism Friday from members of a committee formed to study Smith County's jail space crunch. But after touring the county's cramped facilities, CSC Vice President Bill Bryan conceded whether or not county leaders embrace his product, they need to do something - and fast. "My hat's off to the sheriff and his staff," said Bryan. who retired as chief jail administrator in Bell County before joining the staff of the nationwide CSC. Bryan said a lack of infirmary and space for one is causing medical bills to skyrocket because inmates constantly must be hospitalized for ailments that could be treated in an onsite infirmary. The county's jail facilities, which consist of 755 beds, failed the most recent state inspection due to overcrowding. Bryan joked he would be glad to take the inmates at a 900-bed facility his company recently opened in Newton County. CSC currently contracts with four counties in Texas and open spaces in those jails are rented to counties and other states with overcrowded facilities. Bryan said CSC has a large contract with Arizona and has been able to nearly fill its Texas facilities with Arizona prisoners. Friday's committee meeting consisted of the sheriff and jail staff, his administrative staff, County Auditor Ann Wilson, purchasing agent Jacque Pelson, attorney "Buck" Files, who represents the county in jail matters, and Taxpayers Association President JoAnn Fleming. Answering a question from Files, Bryan said indemnity clauses and insurance could be built into a contract for liability purposes. Still, Files was skeptical about contracting jail services, which would mean bringing in inmates from other states to fill empty beds. "The more inmates we have, the more problems we have," Files said. (CLEAT News)

South Texas Detention Complex
Pearsall, Texas
Correctional Services Corporation
May 18, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
Overcoming some last-minute glitches, homeland security officials have opened the doors to the country's largest and most modern immigrant detention center. The $49.5 million South Texas Detention Complex is to begin housing detainees in the next month or two. It has room for 1,020 of them — 850 men, 150 women and a temporary holding area for 20 minors. The massive, high-tech structure — the main corridor stretches one-fourth of a mile — isn't immune to technical difficulties. During the tour, an administrator had trouble opening and closing a back entrance through which detainees will arrive and be processed. The door could be opened both automatically and manually, but the operator inside and the guard outside spent several frustrating minutes before getting it to work. "It's a brand-new facility," ICE supervisor Valentín De La Garza said with a smile. "There are still some kinks left to be worked out."

T. Don Hutto Correctional Center
Taylor, Texas
CCA
April 24, 2006 KGBT 4
A private prison in Taylor could become the second facility in the country to house immigrant families detained by federal authorities. The T. Don Hutto Correctional Center is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Assistant Williamson County attorney Dale Rye say a new agreement approved by county commissioners allows housing detained families. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said noncriminal immigration detainees would be held at the Taylor facility. But the agency wouldn't confirm if those included families awaiting deportation. A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America declined to comment on the new contract. Currently, the prison has no detainees. The nation's only facility allowed to house detained families is in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

January 19, 2006 NEWS8
A private prison in Taylor has a new, long-term plan to stay up and running. Since it opened, T. Don Hutto Private Prison in Taylor has fought to stay relevant. Workers there spent most of 2005 worrying the jail might shut down permanently. In the last year, financial struggles threatened to close the prison for good. In fact, it was scheduled to shut down at the end of 2005, until Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. With no inmates from Texas to fill the cells, there was plenty of room for prisoners evacuating the areas hit by Katrina last fall. After that need passed, all hope to keep the prison running seemed lost. Then the Department of Homeland Security stepped in with a new contract for T. Don Hutto – as a place to detain illegal immigrants waiting to be deported out of the United States.

July 14, 2005
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) (NYSE:CXW), the nation's largest provider of corrections management services to government agencies, announced today that it has entered into a new agreement with the state of Kentucky to house some of that state's female inmates at the Company's owned and operated Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Kentucky. CCA presently manages nearly 1,200 male inmates for Kentucky at two CCA facilities located in Kentucky. Under the agreement between CCA and the Kentucky Department of Corrections, CCA will manage up to 400 female inmates at the 656-bed, recently-vacant Otter Creek facility. This facility previously housed Indiana inmates until May of 2005, when the inmate population was returned to the state. The Company expects to begin receiving prisoners at the facility on or before September 1, 2005. The terms of the contract include an initial two-year period, with four (4) two-year renewal options. and operated T. Don Hutto Correctional Center located in Taylor, Texas, effective early September 2005. The decision was based on the Company's assessment of near-term customer demand, primarily the United States Marshals Service (USMS). The facility currently houses approximately 100 USMS inmates, some of which will be transferred to other CCA facilities. CCA will work closely with the USMS to facilitate a smooth transfer of the inmates to other facilities. CCA will immediately begin pursuing opportunities to fill the vacant space.

Tarrant County Jail
Tarrant, Texas
Aramark
July 20, 2004
For the third time in less than a year, Tarrant County commissioners are expected Tuesday to award a jail food service contract. The recommended contractor, Mid-America Services, will provide three daily meals for about 3,300 inmates. The contract is worth about $3.79 million a year. Mid-America already runs the jail commissary, which sells snacks and personal items to inmates. Its chief executive is Jack Madera, a controversial businessman with long-running ties to several local politicians, including Sheriff Dee Anderson and Commissioner J.D. Johnson. Both officials have said Madera is a friend but have pledged that the friendship will in no way color their decisions about the contract. Madera was indicted earlier this year on charges of using forged documents to win a 1997 food-service contract in Kaufman County, but the charges were dropped. With the expiration date looming, county officials requested proposals for a new contract, which was ultimately awarded to Aramark Correctional Services. But inmates and county officials alike had many complaints about Aramark, which is based in Philadelphia. Aramark resigned its contract, and Mid-States, as the back-up contractor, resumed providing food service at the jail. (Star-Telegram)

February 25, 2004
Mid-States Services - the Hurst company in line to take over Tarrant County's jail food contract if the current company fails to do a better job -- has its own food-quality problems, a former Mid-States manager told commissioners Tuesday. Emilio Gonzalez, who until January was director of operations for Mid-States, said the former jail contractor often took outdated food from its commissary operations and served it to inmates after removing packaging that listed the freshness dates. "Vendors need to make a profit, but it doesn't need to be at the county's expense," Gonzalez told county commissioners Tuesday during their meeting. Mid-States Chief Executive John Sammons said the allegations are untrue and blamed them on a competitor that he declined to name. Sammons said some boxes of outdated food were found in Mid-States' stocks when the company provided food service to the jail, but he said those boxes had already been designated for disposal when jailers told the company to remove them. "This is another desperate attempt by those who would like to cause Mid- States problems, at a time when the commissioners are looking at us as a back-up supplier," he said. Last week, commissioners put current contractor Aramark Correctional Services on 30 days' notice to improve the quality of food and service or be removed from the contract. Mid-States, which held the jail food contract until December, was designated as a backup supplier if Aramark failed to meet the terms. Sheriff Dee Anderson said Tuesday that in the week since the commissioners issued the ultimatum, Aramark has made improvements and inmate complaints are declining. Checks of the food service have found improved food temperatures and larger portions, he said. But the company still has a long way to go to be acceptable, he said. "If I had to make a recommendation today, I'd cancel the contract," Anderson said. As to Gonzalez's allegations about Mid-States, Anderson said he would discuss them with commissioners. "If any of it is true, it's disturbing," he said. Gonzalez apologized to commissioners for not coming forward sooner, and said that during contract deliberations last fall he was still employed by Mid-States and feared retaliation. He said he resigned because of concerns about Mid-States' operations. Sammons said that Gonzalez left Mid-States on good terms to take another job and that he was disappointed by the comments. An Aramark spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday but has said Aramark officials believe they are meeting contractual obligations. Commissioners did not discuss Gonzalez's comments at the Tuesday meeting because the issue was not posted as an item for consideration. After the meeting, however, commissioners questioned the timing of the comments. "I'm always grateful for people to come forward, but it's odd that he would come forward at this time," Precinct 1 Commissioner Dionne Bagsby said. Precinct 3 Commissioner Glen Whitley said he gave no credence to Gonzalez's comments and would vote to bring in Mid-States if Aramark did not improve its service. "It just amazes me that this guy shows up to speak against Mid-States a week after we put Aramark on 30-days' notice," he said. Mid-States was the food service operator that served meals to inmates in the Tarrant County Jail until Aramark won a $3.3 million contract over Mid-States, Mid-America and Canteen Correctional Services. Mid-America -- run by former Mid-States executive Jack Madera -- operates the jail commissary, which sells toiletries and snack items to jail inmates. Madera has been indicted along with two other men on charges that they used a forged document to win a jail food-service contract in Kaufman County. The indictments stem from an investigation into whether Madera influenced Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles with thousands of dollars in favors before Bowles picked Madera's company for a $20 million jail commissary contract. The scope has widened to include Madera's dealings with other counties, including Tarrant and Denton. (Lawyer Texas Parole)

February 19, 2004
It would be easy to dismiss inmates' complaints about jail food simply as whining -- not worthy of serious attention because incarceration is not meant to be a pleasant experience. But in the case of the Tarrant County Jail and the meals being served by its newly contracted food service provider, Aramark Correctional Services, the food being distributed to prisoners not only does not meet the taste test -- it may actually pose health risks. Inmates have been complaining about the quality of the food since Aramark began serving the county's four jail sites in December under a $3.3 million annual contract. In response to the complaints and boycott of the meals by some prisoners, county purchasing director Jack Beacham and other county officials went to inspect the food service operation. Beacham said they saw 17 pans of soured pinto beans, discovered foods that were being kept at improper temperatures, and witnessed one employee drop tortillas on the floor and then place them back on the service line. (Lawyer Texas Parole)

Texas Commission on Jail Standards
Austin, Texas
Nov. 23, 1997
Gov. George W. Bush didn't preach a sermon about the fox and the henhouse when he hosted one of his periodic seminars for government appointees last week, but maybe he should have. The meetings were initiated several years ago by Gov. Ann Richards to familiarize the men and women who serve on the part-time boards the run most state agencies with some of the do's and don't's of public service. The seminars are probably a good idea. The seminars, however, have been unable to cure the huge lapses in ethical sensitivity and common sense that all too often crop up in state government, most recently at the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. It was discovered that Robert L. Dearing, the commission's deputy director, was moonlighting for a private company that operates jails regulated by the commission. He quit both jobs soon after publicity about them broke, but both he and the commission's executive director, Jack Crump, said they saw no conflict between the two positions. With all due respect, it shouldn't require a degree in government ethics to come to the opposite conclusion. The conflict was obvious. Dearing also was being paid about $42,000 a year as a consultant to a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bobby Ross Group, which operates three county jails in Texas. According to the company's lawyer, Dearing didn't work for the Bobby Ross Group in Texas, but only for a subsidiary that operated in Georgia. The distinction, however, didn't remove the conflict. The dual employment came to light after Dearing signed off on a commission report giving a clean bill of health to the Dickens County Correctional Center in Spur, which is operated by the Bobby Ross Group. That report contradicted an audit by the state of Montana, which until recently kept some of its prisoners in the West Texas lockup. Dearing insisted his work for the private company had "absolutely" no effect on his reviews of their Texas jails. He said he was the victim of a "wrong perception." Still, Crump said he saw no problem with Dearing's arrangement. Neither, presumably, did Crump's bosses, the nine commission members, six of whom were appointed by Bush. Bush, however, had a big problem with it. After learning of Dearing's conflict, Bush had his chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, call Crump. Allbaugh, according to Bush spokesperson Karen Hughes, conveyed the "governor's strong disapproval and feeling that it was unacceptable." (Houston Chronicle)

Nov. 14, 1997
The deputy director of the state agency charged with regulating jails said Thursday he did nothing improper by taking a sideline consulting job with one of the private jail companies he regulates. "Under the same circumstances ... I would do it today again," Robert Dearing said of his $42,000-a-year contract with BRG of Georgia. BRG is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bobby Ross Group, which operates three county lockups in Texas. As the No. 2 person at the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Dearing schedules, reviews and sometimes inspects county jails, including those managed by private companies. Last month he gave a clean bill of health to a Bobby Ross Group-managed jail in the West Texas town of Spur. Dearing's assessment came despite claims by Montana officials that the Dickens County Correctional Center was violating 29 terms of its contract for housing Montana felons. Dearing said the job was approved by his boss, Jack Crump, executive director of the commission, a fact Crump acknowledged on Wednesday. Dearing said he also got the opinion of a lawyer who told him there was no problem so long as his boss had approved it. The attorney advising him, however, is the personal attorney of BRG founder Bobby Ross. (Houston Chronicle)

Texas Legislature
July 28, 2006 Texas Observer
During 12 years in the Texas House, the legislative duties of Rep. Ray Allen, a Grand Prairie Republican, have periodically cross-pollinated his private business enterprises. So when this one-time chair of the House Corrections Committee recently left the Legislature to lobby, he seemed predestined to hustle for prison interests. Yet destiny has its twists. This conservative, who amassed a dismal House environmental record, is working closely with Austin environmental activist Jeff Heckler. While Allen has yet to report any clients with obvious prison ties, Heckler and Allen’s former chief of staff do lobby for corrections-industry clients. Asked about his odd-fellow relationship with Allen, Heckler says, “We’re not working on any environmental stuff. We’re mostly working on corrections stuff.” Welcome to the lobby, where nothing is as it seems. When Allen resigned in January, he expressed frustration over trying to support himself while working as a poorly paid lawmaker during yet another special session. “I simply cannot afford to serve on a $600-a-month salary with no other source of income,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. While candid about his competing personal and legislative obligations, Allen—who now reports lobby income of up to $485,000—has been sensitive to suggestions that this juggling act created occasional conflicts. The Houston Chronicle previously reported on Allen’s fortuitous timing in founding Grand Prairie’s Academy for Firearms Training in 1995. This occurred soon after two House panels that Allen chaired discharged legislation to let Texans carry concealed guns—if they first obtained handgun-safety training. Three years ago, the Observer and Texans for Public Justice reported that Allen, who then chaired the House Corrections Committee, was promoting a prison-privatization bill while he and his top aide lobbied outside Texas for private prison interests. Allen responded that his client, the National Correctional Industries Association (which counted two major private prison companies among its many members), promotes prison labor—not prison privatization. With this in mind, we turn to the delicate matter of Allen’s latest ties to the prison lobby. So far Allen has reported in public filings that eight clients are paying him a total of between $230,000 and $485,000 this year (Texas lobby incomes are reported in ranges). While none of Allen’s reported clients boast obvious prison ties, at least one of them has a keen interest in prison contracts. Allen also works closely with two lobbyists who represent prison companies. One is Scott Gilmore, who previously served as Allen’s legislative chief of staff and was also the lawmaker’s lobby partner. The other is Heckler, the Austin activist. Four of Heckler’s six lobby clients double as clients of Allen or Gilmore. Meanwhile, Gilmore is under contract to the Solutions Group—Heckler’s lobby firm. Gilmore left Allen’s office to form his SEG Strategic Alliances lobbying firm in late 2004. Last year Gilmore reported lobby income of up to $220,000 from six clients. Leading them were clients from the industry that he and Allen recently oversaw. Gilmore and Heckler both lobbied last year for AT&T Inmate Calling Services and Atlantic Shores Healthcare—the mental-health subsidiary of private prison giant GEO Group Inc., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections. Gilmore also has been representing the Keefe Group—the nation’s leading supplier of prison commissaries. This year Gilmore signed CentraCore Properties Trust, a for-profit investor in prisons. Consider California-based Bottom Line Utility Solutions, which advises clients on how to lower utility bills. Last year Bottom Line hired Heckler and Gilmore as it promoted legislation to require Texas prisons to install water-conservation devices (HB 2905). Approved by Allen and the six other members of the Corrections Committee, the bill passed the House too late in the session for Senate action. This year Bottom Line hired a third Texas lobbyist: Ray Allen. Such revolving-door abuses undermine public faith in elected officials and government—a cost that is offset for Allen and Gilmore by the up to $100,000 that they will receive from Bottom Line this year. While Allen’s old legislative colleagues could crack down on revolving-door abuses, too many of them already are looking ahead to lucrative future lobbying careers of their own.

July 23, 2006 Express News
The Willacy County attorney is speaking out against his county's new contract for a massive detention center because he said it involves companies still under a cloud from the 2004 bribery convictions of three elected officials. Juan Angel Guerra also accuses veteran Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, of going back on his word by continuing to represent the same firms. Former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and the late Jose Jimenez were convicted in 2004 of accepting bribes in exchange for favorable votes regarding a 600-bed prison that opened in Raymondville, the county seat, in 2003. The third convicted official, Webb County Commissioner David Cortez, was an associate of CorPlan Corrections, a consulting company at the time of the prison project. Cortez was accused of funneling the bribe money for favorable votes on contracts. No company employees, however, have been charged. Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment on the case, but observers believe the investigation is ongoing because the commissioners' sentencing dates have been pushed back several times. Meanwhile, the same firms are building a 2,000-bed detention facility near the same prison. Willacy commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday to approve $60.6 million in bonds for the new facility, which is on a fast-track construction schedule to house mostly non-Mexican undocumented immigrants in a series of tentlike structures for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Utah-based Management Training Corp., or MTC, will operate the facility; Houston-based Hale-Mills Construction Inc. is building it; and Argyle-based CorPlan is consulting on the project, said Guerra, who is the county and district attorney. A May 27, 2005, letter from commissioners to the county's nonprofit corporation set up to oversee the federal prison project asked it to "terminate its contractual relationship with CorPlan," because a Willacy County lawsuit against the firm alleged it was involved with the bribes. "Now they are asking me to sign a contract that includes CorPlan," Guerra said. "I told the commissioners you can't have it both ways. First you pass the resolution saying you don't want to deal with CorPlan. Now you do a contract that I know for a fact includes CorPlan. So we are back to square one." The lawsuit was dropped in April. County Judge Simon Salinas said he wasn't aware of the letter and resolution that prompted it. It's probably too late anyway, he added. "The contract is already signed, the work is already begun," he said. Regardless, Salinas said, the county can't proceed under the assumption that leaders of the companies are criminals. "In this country we are innocent until proven guilty," he said. "And nobody out there pressed charges against the companies. ... Just because these (commissioners) plead guilty doesn't mean everybody in the world is guilty." Guerra favored Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which offered to finance the detention facility on its own rather than through the county. He said the commissioners initially favored CCA, but later picked MTC. Commissioner Noe Loya said Guerra "is trying to find every excuse to hire CCA, and change our minds, but it's over." Guerra said he met with Lucio two weeks ago and the veteran lawmaker pushed MTC. "I asked him, 'Are you talking to me as my senator or as an employee of one of these companies?'" Guerra said. "He told me he was talking to me as a consultant." Lucio said he met with Guerra because it "appeared that he had quite a bit of influence on the Commissioners Court." Lucio said he told Guerra he favored MTC because it treats its employees well. Lucio said he thought CorPlan had been cleared because the lawsuit filed on behalf of Willacy County against James Parkey, president of CorPlan, was dropped and there have been no other arrests. Parkey did not return a call seeking comment. "My main focus on talking with Johnny (Guerra) was trying to sell him on the fact that MTC was a very reputable company," Lucio said. "I feel very comfortably speaking on their behalf and asking them to consider us and that was my main focus." According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Lucio reported in 2005 that MTC and CorPlan paid him a total of at least $50,000 through his Brownsville company, Rio Shelters Inc. In the wake of the bribery scandal, Lucio said he had stopped representing the firms and wouldn't again until the matter was cleared up. "I know there has been a case, a problem, a situation there where somebody associated with (Parkey) out of Laredo was indicted and convicted," Lucio said, referring to Cortez. "But when the lawsuit against him was dropped, I felt that he was exonerated." Told that the bribery investigation may still be open, he said: "If it is, I am not aware of it." Asked if he was being paid by MTC or CorPlan for encouraging the detention center contract, he said: "It's up to them if they feel I did a good job." Lucio said it was "very hard to draw a fine line" between his job as a lawmaker and his private work, but added: "I can tell you this: I do my best." "I get paid $600 a month to be a state senator, and I do it just about on a full-time basis," he said. Damon Hiniger, a vice president of CCA in Tennessee, said he was surprised by the county's decision because CCA was going to invest its own money, pay about $1.8 million in property taxes, and shoulder the risk. Judge Salinas said he was influenced by the bottom line, nothing more. "I have nothing against CCA, they are a good reputable company, but they are in the business to make their own bucks," he said. The detention facility is to open Aug. 1 with 500 beds, and then have 1,500 more available Oct. 1. It is part of President Bush's Secure Border Initiative.

July 20, 2006 Valley Morning Star
State Sen. Eddie Lucio resumed consulting work with a company that he says offers Willacy County hundreds of jobs and a steady flow of revenue for years to come. Last year, Lucio suspended business with Management Training Corp. and two other companies involved in the development of a $14.5 million prison project that was the focus of a federal bribery investigation. That investigation led to the convictions of former Willacy County commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez. In letters to the companies, Lucio wrote he was taking "a leave of absence" from consulting work "until this matter is resolved." At the time, Lucio asked the Texas Attorney General's Office and the state Ethics Commission to review his work as a consultant. "I can do business with companies that do business with the federal government," Lucio said the agencies determined. Lucio resumed work for MTC as the company sought a Willacy County contract to operate a $60.6 million detention center to hold illegal immigrants. Last week, commissioners voted 3-2 to give MTC a two-year contract to operate the detention center. "They're an outstanding operation," Lucio said of the Utah-based company that operates a 525-bed county-owned prison here. Lucio declined to disclose his fee. Monday, commissioners voted 3-2 to issue $60.6 million in bonds to build the detention center that's part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's crackdown on illegal immigration. "I think Willacy County will come out ahead," Lucio said. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for hundreds of jobs." Lucio said his work with MTC was limited to a meeting with County Attorney Juan Angel Guerra. In the meeting, Lucio talked 30 to 45 minutes with Guerra, who recommended that commissioners hire Corrections Corporation of America, which proposed working with investors to fund the project's costs. "He had questions whether MTC was a reputable company," said Lucio, who owns Rio Consulting in Brownsville. "He was very, very out to get the commissioners to hire CCA. All we did was talk about the qualifications of MTC and why it would be a better deal." Under MTC's contract, the county will own the detention center, Lucio said. "It's a ($60) million asset at the end," Lucio said, referring to county payments that run through 2009. "This is going to be a ... facility for the future. They can continue the same situation. I'm going to push MTC to make sure they fulfill the wishes of Willacy County. What we need to do is insure that inmates are brought to that facility." Lucio said he stood behind company projections that show the federal government will fill the detention center with more than 1,800 illegal immigrants. "The federal government is in dire need," Lucio said of detention center beds. County commissioners Aurelio Guerra and Abiel Cantu voted against hiring MTC because they questioned whether the federal government could fill the detention center with illegal immigrants for which the company would pay at least $2.25 a head. But steps such as hiring more U.S. Border Patrol agents and the placement of National Guard troops along the border will increase arrests of illegal immigrants, Lucio said. "Even President Bush is beefing up the border," he said. "(But) nothing is going to stop people from (crossing the border) to seek the American dream. I think more people are going to get caught." Cantu and Aurelio Guerra also voted against the company's hiring because they argued that the federal government would restrict the county from spending detention center revenues on county expenditures. Lucio said he did not know the specifics of the contract. "That's up to the Commissioners Court to look into the specifics of the contract," he said. Lucio denied Juan Angel Guerra's claim that he was working for Corplan Corrections, an Irving-based prison consulting firm, in the detention center project. Juan Angel Guerra said Lucio told him that he worked for James Parkey, Corplan's president. Last year, Lucio said he suspended ties with Corplan, MTC and Aguirre Corp. of Dallas after Tamez and Jimenez pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in bribes in exchange for votes to hire a consultant in the $14.5 million prison project that the companies helped to develop. Lucio said he resumed work with Corplan after McAllen attorney Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo County's judge, dropped a lawsuit against Corplan and Houston-based Hale Mills construction in April. "When they were exonerated ... it cleared the path," Lucio said. "I work for them anytime I like to. I like Mr. Parkey. He's a good man. As far as I'm concerned, he's a reputable person." However, Lucio said his work with Corplan did not involve the detention center project. Last month, Willacy County commissioners entered into a two-year contract with Homeland Security to construct tent-like domes to hold 500 beds by Aug. 2. As part of the contract, the detention center will expand to 2,000 beds within 90 days.

September 22, 2004 Dallas Morning News
Who would have thought a race to represent the working-class residents of Grand Prairie and South Irving would include cameo appearances by Howard Dean and the Moonies? Anything's possible in the spirited race for state House District 106 between Republican state Rep. Ray Allen and Democrat Katy Hubener, who moved from nearby Duncanville for the chance to unseat the incumbent. During a recent interview, Ms. Hubener's campaign manager accused Mr. Allen of "using taxpayer dollars to fund his prison privatization-lobbying firm" – a reference to Mr. Allen's lone lobby client, the National Corrections Industry Association. It has two private-prison members in addition to the public prison systems in all 50 states, the federal prison system, city and county jails and corporations that contract with prisons.

May 29, 2003
It was horrible and sickening, but I could not stop watching the final days of the Texas Legislature. Fellow Texans, the ripple effects of this disaster will come to haunt us all. Just for starters, this budget is going to cost about 144,000 jobs. Perhaps its most serious effect is on public hospitals. A health-care system so fragile that it is almost overwhelmed now -- turning away ambulances for hours at a time, unable to admit a single patient -- will be swamped after this. The counties will be desperate, the cities not much better. Every area of social service has been cut, not because we have a $9 billion deficit but because House Republicans do not believe government SHOULD help people. We are watching government morph into something very strange. Benito Mussolini said, "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." The real driving force behind this session is something I bet most of you have never heard of -- ALEC. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded, extremely right-wing group that sponsors conferences for state legislators and draws up model bills that are introduced all over the country. ALEC is particularly interested in privatizing government services and deregulating everything, and is anti-environment to an extent that's almost loopy. Let's be very clear about this: People who want to privatize prisons and schools and social services are in it for the money. The real questions of government are always: Who benefits, and who pays? And the answer given this session with jaw-dropping regularity is private corporations profit, while people pay the price in worse services. If government provides a certain service -- say prisons -- for X dollars, how does a private corporation do the same job and make a profit? You ask that question, and you get a lot of pious piffle from the right about private industry is more efficient and less bureaucratic than government. Dilbert and I doubt that. The right says that, in the private sector, pay and performance are related. I look at the CEOs of American corporations, and if there's a connection between pay and performance there, I missed it. What you get when you privatize and outsource is something like the Department of Defense and the military-industrial complex. We spend $399 billion a year on defense, and if you think that money is well spent because much of it gets run through defense contractors, you have not been paying attention. DOD is the happy home of the $700 hammer, the endless cost overrun, and the revolving door, with accompanying conflicts of interest and dubious contracts. It's a fiscal nightmare. The Pentagon once had to announce that it couldn't account for $17 billion. You get nightmare public policy consequences, as well. What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons. The result is even more idiocy, like the three-strikes law and long terms for small-time drug possession. One veteran lobbyist said of this session, "You look up and you suddenly realize that these people are playing a different game." They don't want to make government better. They don't want it to work well. They don't want it to help people. It used to be a joke that when a legislator was contemplating some scurvy piece of special interest legislation, he would go to ridiculous lengths to make the spurious claim, "And so you see, members, we must do this for the sake of the children of Texas." Man, you stand up in the Texas House today with a bill that really will help the children of Texas and you will not get a single Republican vote. They are playing a different game. They are out to take government apart, and then they turn around and say, "See, I told you government doesn't work." And they believe in all this with a self-righteous certitude that has to be seen to be believed. When we weren't watching rigid, ideological lockstep on corporatization, we got a lot of Christian right nonsense. Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth wanted a bill to provide a special license plate reading, "Pro-Life." Under this bill, the state could charge a premium to people who want this specialized plate on their cars, just as we currently have for people who pay extra for specialized plates supporting Texas critters or A&M. No one before now has thought of putting anything on a Texas plate that was in the least controversial. These suckers are pretty much in the "I'm in Favor of Bluebonnets" school of political controversy. So suddenly here comes Wohlgemuth, with a bill that says any of us can tote around a license plate that reads, "Texas -- Pro-Life." She wanted $22 of the $30 extra charged by the state to go to church groups and non-profit organizations that counsel pregnant women to give their babies up for adoption. The House would not even accept an amendment to offer another plate saying, "Choose Choice." Fortunately, the bill was finally shot down on a point of order. During the debate on tort reform, Democrats took to referring to the part of the gallery where the big business interests lobbyists sit as "the owners' box." It sure ain't the people's legislature. (Molly Ivans - Creators Syndicate)

May 29, 2003
Legislators rushed Tuesday night to put dying legislation onboard a massive government reorganization bill that became the last train off the House floor. "This is a cross between a flea market and a Moroccan bazaar," said Rep. Jack Stick, R-Austin. "Everybody's got a pet project, a pet bill or a pet amendment that has not found a home. This bill is nothing if it's not a pet store." Midnight Tuesday was the deadline for legislation to get tentative approval by the House and remain alive. At one point, lawmakers had filed 500 amendments, but time ran out on most of them. A section that would have privatized more state prison beds was changed so that it now authorizes only a study of privatization. (Austin American-Statesman)

May 12, 2003
A major government reorganization bill that would give more power to the governor and is crucial to state leaders' plans to balance a new budget without raising state taxes was temporarily derailed Saturday. House debate on House Bill 2 had barely begun before Speaker Tom Craddick was forced to postpone further action in the face of a successful parliamentary challenge. "If we don't have this bill, we probably don't certify the budget," Craddick told reporters. But he said he was confident the technical flaw in the bill's preparation, raised by a Democratic lawmaker, would be quickly corrected in committee and the measure rescheduled for debate on Tuesday or Wednesday. He said proposed savings in the bill are worth $227 million toward bridging a $9.9 billion revenue shortfall. The timing for debate of the measure is critical because Thursday is the deadline for House bills to be given tentative approval by the full House, or they will die. Debate on House Bill 2 promises to be lengthy. The bill is 418 pages long, and at least 84 amendments had been pre-filed before debate was halted. A new state budget must be balanced by the time the regular session ends June 2, or Gov. Rick Perry will have to call lawmakers back into special session this summer to complete the job. The current state budget expires Aug. 31. Further complicating the bill's outlook is a simmering controversy over Republican efforts to pass a bill redrawing the state's congressional districts to favor the GOP. Debate on the redistricting bill, which could be lengthy and charged with partisanship, is scheduled for Monday, ahead of the budget-balancing bill. The House on Saturday gave tentative approval to several other bills also crucial to the budget-writing effort. Representatives also resurrected their version of House Bill 5, a school finance bill, by attaching it as an amendment to House Bill 3459, one of the budget-balancing bills. The provision would add $1.2 billion to the present school finance system and set a deadline for repealing the controversial "Robin Hood" school law by the summer of 2004, if a replacement is approved by then. Identical language was approved two weeks ago by the House in House Bill 5, but that measure was rewritten by the Senate to provide for a massive school finance tax trade-off. The Senate's plan died Friday night when the House refused to seek a compromise. Craddick and Gov. Rick Perry want to wait to tackle a school finance overhaul in a special session later this year or next. One part of the government reorganization effort, a proposal to take $464 million from school districts as a penalty for being top-heavy in administrative costs, already was generating controversy before debate began. The bill sponsor, Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas, said the provision was necessary to hold school officials "accountable." "We're not taking anything (money) out of education. We're sort of rearranging the chairs," he said. Under Swinford's proposal, $215 million of the $464 million would be spent on one-time bonuses of $800 for each schoolteacher in the state. The remainder would be redistributed for other educational spending. The plan would penalize districts that spend more money than most districts of their size for such purposes as counselors, nurses, health services, transportation, food service and security. According to an analysis, the Houston Independent School District wouldn't lose any money under that proposal, but a number of other Houston-area districts would. Brad Shields, a former member of the Eanes School Board in Austin and a lobbyist for several school districts of above-average wealth, said the proposal would "wipe out" districts whose school maintenance taxes are already at the state limit of $1.50 per $100 valuation. "The decisions to hire these additional nurses and counselors were made by locally elected school board members. That represents local control," Shields said. Richard Kouri, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, had a mixed reaction. He said the proposed bonuses would be welcome. "But is it going in the right pocket and out the left pocket?" he asked, referring to other legislative actions that would penalize teachers, such as cuts in health insurance payments. Some of the sweeping changes in House Bill 2, which are supported by Perry, would enhance the power of the governor. Among other things, the governor would be given the authority to order the reorganization and operation of every state agency not controlled by some other elected official. In those cases, he could hire and fire agency heads, most of whom are now hired by boards and commissions appointed by the governor. The measure also would create the Texas Enterprise Fund, which Perry is seeking as a source of funds for job training and other incentives to encourage businesses to move to Texas. Some other changes in HB 2 would: Consolidate several small regulatory agencies -- including the Funeral Services Commission and boards regulating plumbers, barbers and cosmetologists -- into the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Encourage the use of more private prisons and create the Private Correctional Facilities Commission to oversee contracts with private vendors. Require the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to study administrative efficiencies, including the use of inmate labor in construction projects. (Houston Chronicle)

Texas Department of Criminal Justice
VitaPro
September 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A federal judge has overturned the 4-year-old bribery convictions of a former Texas prisons director and a Canadian businessman, ruling that the prosecution's key witness lied to curry favor with a federal prosecutor in Louisiana. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes late Thursday acquitted James "Andy" Collins, former executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; and Yank Barry, owner of VitaPro, a company that made a soy-based meat alternative fed to inmates. The judge ordered that should the U.S. Attorney's Office successfully appeal his decision, Collins and Barry will get a new trial. Hughes' decision comes four years after the pair's convictions because of delays in obtaining a trial transcript so that the defense could file a motion seeking the acquittal. The court reporter suffered a nervous breakdown and the transcript was filled with errors, according to Hughes' opinion. A federal jury in August 2001, found that Barry paid two $10,000 bribes to Collins in return for pushing a no-bid contract with VitaPro to feed its product to Texas prisoners. The two were convicted on bribery, conspiracy and money laundering charges. Hughes overturned the convictions, ruling that the government's key witness, Patrick Graham, lied during the trial to please then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

November 19, 2002
With a new generation of leadership to take over in Austin, consumer advocates are hitting the panic button about cadre of corporate lobbyists hitching a ride into the halls of government. From the man who would be House speaker to the governor and lieutenant governor, the state's newly elected top leaders have tapped, or are expected to tap, lobbyists for insurance companies, utilities, chemical makers, tobacco companies, drug makers and other corporate interests to join transition teams, guide their policies and oversee their offices. In stepped state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, who announced that he has the votes to become the next speaker when members convene in January. Also on the Craddick team is Bill Messer, a former Democratic House member whose clients include State Farm Insurance, the Texas Chemical Council and the McDonald's restaurant chain. Bill Messer. Experience: Former state representative from Belton, 1979-86: chairman of calendars in the state House. Lobby clients: Texas Chemical council; Atlantic Richfield, an oil and gas company; CSC., a private company in the prison business; IBM; McDonald's; State Farm Insurance. (Star-Telegram Austin Bureau)

September 11, 2002
A decade after embarking on a massive prison expansion that tripled the state's inmate population, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will ask the Legislature next year to slash its budget by $44 million. "We really took a hard look at the numbers and went over them with a very sharp pencil, and we got the budget down as low as we could," Criminal Justice Board Chairman Mac Stringfellow said Tuesday. "We think we found a level where we can operate a safe and secure correctional system and hold down spending to the minimum. In 1990, for instance, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's operating budget, which doesn't include construction costs, was $793 million. The budget had climbed to $1.7 billion by 1995 and to $2.24 billion by 1999. Even with the tripling capacity, the state had to contract with numerous counties, using their jails to handle the overflow. The state's contracts with the counties reached $49 million in 2000. Spokesman Larry Todd said the prison system was able to end the county contracts last month, which accounts for a substantial part of the proposed budget cutback. (Star-Telegram Austin Bureau)

August 21, 2001
Former Texas prisons chief James A. "Andy" Collins and the president of a Canadian company that makes the meat substitute VitaPro were found guilty Monday of federal charges stemming from a kickback scheme in 1995 to distribute the product to state inmates. Collins and Yank Barry, president of VitPro Foods Inc. in Montreal, will be sentenced Nov. 19. Both face up to 70 years in prison and fines of up to $2 million if given the maximum sentences for their convictions on bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Collins, who was forced out as executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in December 1995 before the VitaPro scandal broke early the next year, declined to comment. Jurors determined that Collins took $20,000 in bribes to push through a five-year, $33.7 million contract to feed VitaPro to Texas inmates and to market it elsewhere. Collins ordered his staff to finalize the contract two days before announcing his forced resignation in September 1995. "He traded and swapped his position of influence for money," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Frels told jurors before deliberations began. Collins was forced out when Texas officials learned that while he was still head of the prison system, he agreed to run a private juvenile prison in Louisiana after retirement. (AP)

August 16, 2001
Former world heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali was back in a Houston federal courthouse Thursday, the same place where he was convicted of draft-dodging in 1967. But this time he was in a courtroom under different circumstances, to show support for a Canadian businessman accused of bribing a Texas prison official. Jurors were agape when they filed into the courtroom after an afternoon break. "The Greatest" was standing in the gallery. Some gasped, many craned their necks, some openly gawked. A juror leaned over to another and said in a loud whisper, "That's Muhammad Ali." Defense attorneys got the reaction they had hoped for. Ali is a longtime friend of Yank Barry, president of the Montreal-based VitaPro Foods Inc., manufacturer of a soy-based meat substitute. Barry is accused of bribing former prisons executive director James A. "Andy" Collins in exchange for securing a five-year, multimillion-dollar state prisons contract for VitaPro. Collins and Barry are on trial on federal bribery and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors have suggested that Barry lied about his relationship with the likes of Ali and other celebrities while soliciting business from potential VitaPro customers. But Barry's attorney says Barry and Ali have been close friends since they met in 1963 or 1964, when Barry was touring the country as a musician. Ali is now a spokesman for VitaPro and Global Village Market, a VitaPro Foods spinoff that provides free meals and medical supplies to charities around the world. (Houston Chronicle)

August 16, 2001
James A. (Andy) Collins, former Texas prison chief who is on trial in Houston on federal bribery and money-laundering charges, said he had two major objectives when running one of the world's largest prison systems: Ensure public safety and save money. During his tenure as executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 1994-95, he thought a Canadian-made meat substitute would help him meet the second objective. "It was a real program that we had a great deal of faith in," he testified Wednesday of what turned into a five-year, $33.7-million contract between Texas and Montreal-based VitaPro Foods Inc. to feed the soy-based nutrient to inmates and market it to prisons and other entities in other states. But VitaPro proved unpopular among inmates and prison staff. Collins retired from the state at the request of his superiors in December 1995 when they learned that while still at the top post for Texas prisons, Collins had agreed to run a juvenile prison in Louisiana after he retired. Collins, 50, now a credit manager for a concrete company in Austin, is charged with bribery, fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in what federal prosecutors call a scheme to accept $20,000 in kickbacks for pushing through the VitaPro contract and work as a marketing consultant for the meat substitute company after his retirement. Prosecutors say Collins created a shell consulting company to accept the money from VitaPro president Yank Barry in exchange for the multimillion-dollar contract. Barry is being tried on the same charges. (CBC)

August 8, 2001
A federal jury will decide whether a former Texas prison chief took kickbacks in a scheme to distribute a soy-based meat substitute in state lockups or simply accepted consulting fees on the eve of his post-corrections career. "You're about to hear the story of a man who worked his way up to to be executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice," said federal prosecutor Gary Cobe, referring to Andy Collins, as he addressed the jury on Tuesday, the first day of the trial. "And then, through greed, he threw it all away because he decided to start lining his own pockets." (AP)

August 7, 2001
The main course at an Austin taste-testing buffet organized by Texas prison officials was something called VitaPro. It was January 1995, and prison administrators saw the soy-based meat substitute made in Canada and fed to Texas inmates as a cheap food source and a cash cow if they could persuade managers of other jails and prison systems to buy the granular pebbles, which would be distributed exclusively by Texas. VitaPro is long gone from Texas, but the indigestion lingers. Today, Andy Collins, the former executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, is set to go on trial in federal court on bribery, fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges related to a $33.7 million contract for VitaPro. Also being tried with Collins on the same charges is Yank Barry, president of VitaPro Foods Inc. of Montreal, manufacturer of the meat substitute. Barry is an ex-con who did time for extortion and conspiracy under his given name of Gerald Barry Falovitch. (AP)

Texson Management Group
August 2000
Up to $ 1 million in bond money may be missing and city cancels contract. Investigation is under way. (The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, August 1, 2, 7, 2000)

Tom DeLay
Sugar Land, Texas
CCA, Cornell
September 29, 2005 Star-Telegram
In a move denounced as a political witchhunt, Rep. Tom DeLay was indicted Wednesday with two associates on a felony charge of conspiring to circumvent Texas' prohibition of corporate campaign donations to secure the Republican takeover of the Texas House in 2002. Shortly after Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced the indictment, the Republican congressman from Sugar Land resigned his powerful majority leader post in Washington, at least temporarily. DeLay, 58, is accused of conspiring with two associates to convert $190,000 in donations from several corporations into campaign contributions on behalf of seven Republican candidates who were involved in what many had believed would be close contests for seats in the Texas House.

September 28, 2005 Bloomberg
U.S. Representative Tom DeLay, the No. 2 Republican in the House, was indicted by a Texas grand jury for criminal conspiracy in connection with illegal corporate political donations, prompting him to give up his leadership post. Two former campaign aides, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, were also charged with conspiracy by the state grand jury in Travis County, according to the single-count indictment. The charge stems from an investigation into alleged use of illegal corporate contributions by DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, in the 2002 races for the state House of Representatives. The four-page indictment charges that DeLay conspired with Ellis and Colyandro to use donations from companies including Williams Companies Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., now Sears Holdings Corp., to help finance the election campaigns of seven members of the Texas House in 2002. Under Texas law, corporations aren't permitted to donate to candidates. Other companies named, but like Williams and Sears, not charged in the indictment were Diversified Collections Services Inc., Cornell Companies Inc., Bacardi U.S.A. Inc. and Questerra Corp.

September 13, 2005 American-Statesman
A Travis County grand jury today added new felony charges against two officials with Texans for a Republican Majority who first were indicted last fall. The grand jury re-indicted political consultants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis on first-degree felony charges that the two laundered a $190,000 corporate check into campaign donations during the 2002 elections. It added lesser felony charges of unlawfully making a contribution to a political party and criminal conspiracy involving the $190,000 transaction. Just weeks before the 2002 election, Colyandro, who was executive director of the political committee created by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, sent a blank check to his counterpart, Ellis, in Washington.

September 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A Travis County grand jury indicted a business organization and a political committee founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Thursday on felony charges of violating election laws by using corporate money to influence state elections. The indictments accuse the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee of two counts of illegally soliciting corporate money for political campaigns. The indictment of TRMPAC is significant because it reflects on DeLay's role in overseeing the committee. DeLay served on its board of advisers and helped raise some of the corporate money at the core of the controversy. Texas election law prohibits the use of corporate or labor-union money to influence races for elective office. TRMPAC could face a fine of up to $40,000, but the committee filed articles of dissolution with the Texas Ethics Commission in July. Earle said the dissolution does not matter because TRMPAC's management or board of advisers can be held liable for its criminal conduct.

August 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A state district judge refused Tuesday to dismiss charges of money laundering and accepting illegal political contributions against two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. Judge Bob Perkins denied arguments from John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that the charges were based on an unconstitutionally vague law and that the indictments were improperly worded. Lawyers for Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fundraising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, and Jim Ellis, who worked for Americans for a Republican Majority, have said they will appeal, likely delaying any trial for at least several months. The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. The money-laundering charges are based on $190,000 in corporate money that was sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee.

July 13, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A state district judge declined Tuesday to dismiss charges of accepting illegal political contributions against an associate of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Lawyers for John Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fund-raising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, had claimed that the indictment against him was based on an unconstitutionally vague law. Judge Bob Perkins also declined to dismiss a charge of money laundering against Colyandro, although that issue remains technically alive. The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. The money-laundering charges are related to $190,000 in corporate money sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee. The committee then gave the same amount to seven Texas House candidates.

May 27, 2005 Star-Telegram
A fund-raising operation founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay broke the law when its treasurer failed to report more than $500,000 in corporate money funneled into Texas campaigns during the pivotal 2002 elections, a judge ruled Thursday. Texas District Judge Joseph Hart ruled that the treasurer, Bill Ceverha, must pay five Democratic candidates who lost their elections a combined $196,660 in damages. It was the first time -- amid a flood of lawsuits and criminal investigations surrounding the Republican Party's rapid rise to power in Texas -- that part of the GOP's aggressive fund-raising operation has been found illegal. Hart's decision, which came in a lawsuit brought by the Democratic candidates, added quickly to the pressure mounting against DeLay, the Sugar Land Republican who has been under siege for ethics issues and questions about his relationships with lobbyists.

April 21, 2005 New York Times
A children's charity established by Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, has been underwritten by several of the nation's largest companies and their executives, including companies that routinely lobby lawmakers on issues before Congress, according to a review of charity records released by the companies and other documents. The 19-year-old charity, the DeLay Foundation for Kids, has consistently declined to identify its donors, citing their desire for privacy. But a review of corporate and charitable records shows that recent donors have included AT&T, the Corrections Corporation of America, Exxon Mobil, Limited Brands and the Southern Company, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Microsoft founder and his wife, and Michael Dell of Dell computers. The Gates and Dell family foundations have donated at least $350,000 to Mr. DeLay's charity since 2001. Among the largest corporate gifts was a $100,000 check given to Mr. DeLay last year by the Corrections Corporation of Nashville, which manages federal prisons. AT&T and Exxon Mobil say they have each donated $50,000.

April 15, 2005 Salon
"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special-interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know. I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure." That populist polemic was delivered on the House floor in November 1995 by well-known reformer Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Now nationally notorious for his own lobbyist-paid luxury trips to Scotland, Russia and South Korea, among other places, where he has been wined and dined by a bewildering variety of special-interest groups, the House majority leader is no longer quite so strict about full disclosure, either. Even the trait often described as his most admirable -- his concern for abused children -- has been tainted by his penchant for backroom influence peddling. Last year, DeLay was forced to cancel an ambitious series of charitable events to be held at the Republican Convention in New York, following a blast of public criticism over the grossness of the solicitations sent out to lobbyists and corporate donors. For donations ranging between $10,000 and $500,000, these potential benefactors of abused children were to be feted at an exclusive Long Island golf club, as well as provided with a yacht cruise, a VIP suite at the convention, and a special suite for viewing the president's acceptance speech. As the Houston Chronicle noted sourly at the time, the 13-page promotional brochure "had exactly one sentence mentioning abused and neglected children." While that venture was abruptly canceled, DeLay hasn't stopped soliciting corporate interests to raise funds for his charity -- and himself -- at venues around the country. These events aren't publicized and in fact are rarely reported. Last August, for example, DeLay appeared at a luncheon in Lexington, Ky., hosted by Rep. Hal Rodgers, R-Ky., at which donors coughed up money for the DeLay legal defense fund, but this event wasn't reported in the local press until four months later. Among those attending the Lexington luncheon was an executive of the Corrections Corporation of America, who handed the majority leader a $100,000 check made out to the DeLay Foundation for Kids. As the largest private prison contractor in America, CCA relies on the federal government to fill its prisons and its coffers, and is seeking to privatize the prison system in Texas, where DeLay has a bit of influence, too. A spokeswoman for the company told the Lexington Herald-Leader that CCA gives to charities and politicians alike without any expectation of favors in return. In fact, those present at the DeLay luncheon were reportedly emotionally moved to see that big check being handed over.

March 16, 2005 The Free Press
Some civilians believe the definition of an honest Texas pol is one who stays bought. But among pols of the old school, the saying was, "If you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in the Legislature." Many of our pols have the ethical sensitivity of a walnut. All this has led many to conclude erroneously that Tom DeLay, an alumnus of the Texas Legislature, is somehow our fault. I grant you a certain resemblance to some of our more notorious standards: "Everybody does it" and "They did it first" are actually considered excuses here. But I categorically reject cultural responsibility for Tom DeLay. Real Texas politicians are neither hypocritical nor sanctimonious. A pol does what he must -- fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly -- but no pol of the Old School, when DeLay served in the Lege, would add self-righteousness to shady dealing. Doing favors for big campaign donors may indeed be an "everybody does it," but when those favors take the form of laws that directly hurt your people, you're supposed to draw the line. Over the line is where Texas pols would put using a children's charity as a cover for collecting soft money from special interest groups and then spending it on dinners, a golf tournament, a rock concert, Broadway tickets and so forth. Because the money was supposedly for a charity, Celebrations for Children, Inc., special interests who wanted favors from DeLay were able to give him money without revealing themselves as campaign donors. Cute trick, Tom, but a really cruddy thing to do. In another example of ethical rot, DeLay took a $100,000 check from the Corrections Corporation of America, a company that runs private prisons in Texas and has a 20-year history that includes mismanagement and abuse. CCA wants the Texas Lege, over which DeLay exercises considerable sway because he's a money conduit, to privatize the prisons. And that check? Made out to DeLay's children's charity, the DeLay Foundation for Kids. Barf.

December 13, 2004 Newsweek
Faced with mounting lawyers' bills to fend off ethics complaints and a grand-jury probe in Texas, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is increasing efforts to raise money for his legal-defense fund. But DeLay, who has raked in more than $400,000 for the fund since last July, could face new questions over how he's raised the cash in the past. In addition, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader last week reported that, while attending a fund-raiser for DeLay's legal fund last August, the head of a private prison firm handed DeLay a $100,000 check for a foundation he operates for abused children.

December 1, 2004 Democrats.org
House Republican leader Tom Delay, after being shielded from losing his leadership position upon indictment by a grand jury, is yet again pushing the ethical envelope. Recently, Delay took a check for $100,000 for his charity from Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company that was looking to add to its list of government prison contracts. So Delay's ethical problems cost him a sizable amount of money in legal bills, then House Republicans changed their ethics rules so that he could stay in the leadership even if indicted on criminal charges, then those same House Republicans helped organize a fundraiser to help him pay for his bills, then at the fundraiser he took a check for $100,000 from a company looking for federal prison contracts and yet, the Republicans still want this man as their leader?

December 1, 2004 Star Telegram
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose aggressive campaign fund raising is the subject of a Texas grand jury investigation, took a $100,000 check from a private prison company at a Lexington fund-raiser in August for a charity he operates. DeLay, R-Sugar Land, has refused to identify donors to his nonprofit DeLay Foundation for Kids, despite calls for disclosure from government-ethics groups that criticize anonymous, unlimited gifts to the charities of powerful members of Congress. However, Corrections Corporation of America confirmed last week that its chief executive officer, John Ferguson, traveled to Lexington to present $100,000 to DeLay's charity. "We absolutely get no favors in return, and we expect no favors in return," Louise Chickering said. Ferguson announced the $100,000 gift before scores of guests at a fund-raising luncheon for DeLay's legal defense fund, organized by Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky's senior congressman. Through its political-action committee, CCA contributed nearly $180,000 for federal races during the 2004 elections. DeLay and Rogers took at least $4,500 and $6,000, respectively, from CCA for their campaigns or their "leadership PACs," used to help their colleagues' campaigns. Calls to Rogers' congressional office were not returned this week. "These political foundations have become methods for well-heeled corporate executives, lobbyists and others to purchase influence and face time with top politicians, and without the limits or disclosure required of campaign donations or lobbying," said Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

October 22, 2004 AP
Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who have been indicted for alleged campaign finance violations will be allowed to put off answering a civil lawsuit until their criminal charges have been resolved. State District Judge Joe Hart on Thursday postponed a civil lawsuit against John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, who were charged last month with laundering corporate donations during the 2002 elections.

September 22, 2004 AP
The money laundering allegation in a congressional ethics complaint filed against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay involves the same $190,000 in political contributions that led to indictments of the Texas congressman's aides on similar charges. DeLay is accused in an ethics complaint of misusing the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee to launder $190,000 in illegal corporate contributions through the Republican National Committee for use in Texas legislative races. On Tuesday, a grand jury in Texas indicted Jim Ellis, a paid consultant to Texans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of the Texas committee, on money laundering charges involving the same $190,000 check. A third aide was indicted on separate charges. The indictments allege that on Sept. 13, 2002, Ellis delivered a check for $190,000 to the Republican National Committee. The check was signed by Colyandro and made out to the Republican National State Elections Committee. Accompanying it was a list of several GOP Texas legislative candidates and the amount of money that each should get from the RNC, according to the indictment. The indictments said the $190,000 came from corporate contributions to Texans for A Republican Majority. Givers included Diversified Collection Services Inc., $50,000; Sears, Roebuck and Co., $25,000; Williams Companies Inc., $25,000; Cornell Companies, $10,000, Bacardi USA, $20,000 and Questerra Corp., $25,000, the indictments said. They did not account for the remaining contributions. The Republican National State Elections Committee subsequently wrote checks totaling $190,000 to seven Texas candidates, the indictment alleges. Texas law prohibits the use of corporate money for direct political purposes.

Travis County Community Justice Center
Austin, Texas
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
June 28, 2005 American-Statesman
Travis County plans to send 100 inmates to a jail near San Antonio that, although recently upgraded, has been cited for violating state rules and recently lost a federal contract after five inmates escaped in broad daylight. Travis is moving the inmates to ease crowding in the county jail system. The inmates are being sent to the Frio County Detention Facility in Pearsall. The 391-bed, privately managed facility has the room Travis County was looking for and will take inmates at less cost than the other available jail, in Limestone County. But the space in Frio County is available almost one year after the U.S. Marshals Service removed 240 federal inmates because five of their prisoners escaped in August 2004. A surprise inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards in July 2004 resulted in citations for understaffing and crowding, including housing inmates in a classroom. Federal officials also were concerned last year that prisoners were not properly monitored, said Gary Brown, an assistant chief deputy for the U.S. marshals' western Texas division. The August escape was at least the fifth in the nine years, according to state and federal records. Tavis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said they hadn't heard about Frio County's troubles. Daugherty said he's asked the Travis County sheriff's office to give the commissioners a detailed rundown of Frio's recent history. "I fully expect that when something like this goes before the commissioners, these traps have been sprung," Daugherty said. "If we think Frio County hasn't cleaned their act up, then we have to really think about whether we should be sending our inmates there."

February 13, 2003
Eight years after Texas finished the biggest prison building boom in its history, the state's cellblocks are virtually full again. Now, the Legislature again is looking for options, hoping to avert another crisis in its $2.5 billion-a-year prison system without adding to a state budget shortfall estimated at $9.9 billion over the next 2 1/2 years. * Privatizing. Private companies can house a prisoner for about $35 a day, compared with $44 a day for state-run prisons, said Larry Todd, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Rep. Terry Keel, R-Austin, the chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, is leery of giving more business to the private sector. Keel said he's willing to look at the idea, but "it was a dismal failure here." At the Travis County Community Justice Center , a state jail in East Austin that had been run by Wackenhut Corrections Corp., 12 employees were indicted in 1999 on charges of harassing and sexually abusing prisoners. Many were later acquitted. Soon after, the state took over the jail's operations, terminating Wackenhut's contract. (American-Statesman)

September 9, 1999
The state of Texas retook control of this prison. 11 former guards and a case manager were indicted on criminal sex charges. They are charged with felony charges of sexual assault and improper sexual activity as well as misdemeanor charges of sexual harassment. The state is also investigating fraud.

University of Texas
Lehman Brothers
October 26, 2002
Kevin Pranis and May Va Lor of the Not With Our Money! campaign criticized private prisons Wednesday for profiting from a new wave of immigrant imprisonment spurred by the attacks of last September. In the presentation at the University Teaching Center, titled "Immigrants on Lockdown," Pranis told an audience of about 50 students that undocumented immigrants of Middle Eastern descent are targeted for incarceration in order to increase profit for private prisons. "A corporation is profiting off of the incarceration of immigrants," said Tracy Thottam, a communication sciences and disorders graduate student and member of the Asian American Relations Group, which co-sponsored the presentation with the Campus Greens. "They can claim that they are fighting the war on terrorism and that they are helping their country, but they are really helping their business." Pranis and Lor also presented the message that students in the United States should tell their universities to stop giving bond business to Lehman Brothers, an institutional-investment bank, until the company stops funding private prisons. Bob Libal, a communication studies senior and a member of the Campus Greens, said the presentation marked the start of a campaign to pressure UT System officials to refuse to do business with Lehman Brothers if they are helping fund private prisons, similar to the campaign against Sodexho Marriott. (Daily Texan Staff)

United States Immigration Detention Center
Burns International
Bayview, Texas
October 17, 2001
After trying to take their case to court for nine years, four former guards have appealed a lawsuit that charges women were sexually assaulted at the U.S. Immigration Detention Center near Bayview. Officials at United International Investigative Services, a security firm that hired guards for the INS facility, did not respond to a message requesting comment. In August 1992, the former guards charged they lost their jobs after reporting female guards and detainees were sexually abused inside the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service's largest detention center. In 1998, the former guards settled out of court with Burns International, one of the security firms that hired guards for INS facility. When the former guards included the INS in the lawsuit, the case moved to federal court. (Valley Morning Star)


Valley Transitional TC
Weslaco, Texas
Texson MG
October 12, 2000
Weslaco won another round in its fight to keep a controversial halfway house closed. The Texas Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal by Texson that claimed the city acted improperly when it shut down the residential treatment center last year. (Valley Morning Star, Oct.13, 2000)

September 1999
Hidalgo County state district Judge Aparicio issued an injunction closing the treatment center. City officials revoked a special zoning permit after finding that up to one-third of the residents were registered sex offenders. (Valley Morning Star, Oct.13, 2000)

Val Verde County Correctional Facility and Jail
Del Rio, Texas
GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections)
March 10, 2006 Texas Observer
The horrors of the Texas prison system rarely escape the jailhouse walls, but a recent lawsuit filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project reveals a climate of negligence and violence in one privately run South Texas prison. The suit, filed February 15 in San Antonio federal district court, alleges that 23-year-old LeTisha Tapia, a prisoner at the Val Verde County Correctional Facility, was allegedly raped, beaten, and deprived of urgent mental health care. Attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project filed suit on behalf of Tapia’s family against the private prison company, GEO Group, that operates the facility. A number of prison guards, the jail’s warden, and the United States Marshals Service are also listed as defendants. The complaint portrays the Val Verde prison, located in Del Rio, as a madhouse where guards allowed male and female inmates to have sex. The lawsuit partially blames Tapia’s death on the jail’s inadequate medical care and supervision of the inmates. Medlock says this kind of corner cutting on prisoner treatment is common in private prisons. “It’s pretty obvious that privately run facilities are in it to make a profit,” he said. “They try to provide that to the company at the expense of inmate safety and health.”

February 16, 2006 Houston Chronicle
A civil rights lawsuit announced Wednesday blames the private corrections system for the 2004 suicide of a South Texas woman found hanging in her cell after reporting that a male inmate raped her. LeTisha Tapia, who died at the Val Verde County Jail in July 2004, was housed in the same cell block as male inmates and reported that guards allowed male and female inmates to have sex with each other, according to the lawsuit filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of the woman's family. "It's unbelievably outrageous what happened here. Sexual relations between inmates is just beyond the pale," civil rights attorney Scott Medlock said Wednesday. "When prisons and jails are privatized, the company's bottom line is placed above inmate health and safety." The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, names GEO Group Inc., the nation's second-largest private prison company, among the defendants. "We obviously haven't had an opportunity to review the lawsuit. So, at this point, I wouldn't have any comment," said GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez. Also declining immediate comment were the U.S. Marshals Service and several Val Verde County officials named as defendants in the civil action. The Marshals Service contracts with Val Verde County for jail space and the county, in turn, hires GEO Group to run the jail, which houses 784 inmates. Tapia, who spent nearly six months in the jail before her death, was awaiting transfer to a federal facility after pleading guilty to a marijuana possession charge, Medlock said, adding that she had about a year left on her sentence. While in the county jail, male inmates were moved into maximum-security, solitary confinement cells that are connected to the women's cells by a common day room, the lawsuit said, but jailers allowed the inmates to have contact with each other. "Female inmates discovered they could open the cells of the male inmates using a toothbrush," the lawsuit alleged. "Guards would open the door between the hallways and tell the inmates to 'do what you want to do, or what you gotta do.' Some female inmates began to have sexual relations with male inmates." The close quarters for male and female inmates continued for more than a month, the lawsuit said. Tapia reported the sexual contact to the prison warden in April 2004, but he did not move the male inmates to another section of the jail, the lawsuit said. Tapia was raped after female inmates forced her into a male inmate's cell as punishment for being a "snitch," the lawsuit said, and her mental state deteriorated. Tapia later reported feeling depressed and anxious and asked to see a psychiatrist in a medical request marked "URGENT," according to the complaint, but she did not see a doctor for another 10 days. After Tapia smuggled a telephone from the infirmary into her jail cell, an individual described only as "Lt. Duggar" physically and psychologically abused her and sexually humiliated her in front of others, the lawsuit alleges in graphic detail. The next day, Tapia was found dead in her jail cell, hanging by a sheet. polly.hughes@chron.com

February 16, 2006 Press Release
Grieving Family Files Suit Against County and Private Jail After Wife and Mother is Raped, Commits Suicide. The Texas Civil Rights Project filed suit today on behalf of the family of Mrs. Letisha Tapia. Mrs. Tapia was found hanging in the Val Verde County Jail on July 23, 2004 after she had been raped by a male inmate. The jail housed Mrs. Tapia in the same cell block as violent male inmates. Permissive guards allowed male and female inmates to have sexual relations. Mrs. Tapia told the warden about these sexual transgressions, but he ignored her pleas and male inmates remained in the cell block. Mrs. Tapia was raped by one of the male inmates after making her report to the warden. Mrs. Tapia reported the rape to the authorities, who refused to press charges. She received no psychiatric treatment after the rape, despite experiencing depression and anxiety. The night before she died, Mrs. Tapia was abused by a guard. Lt. Duggar interrogated Mrs. Tapia about a rules violation by forcing her to her knees and kicking her. He threatened her with rape, telling her “if you were my cellmate, I’d make you my bitch.” He called her a “low-life prostitute ho” and told her she would spend the next fifteen years in jail. He ordered three female officers to strip search Mrs. Tapia, and watched as they made her expose herself to him. Despite telling Lt. Duggar she would kill herself if placed in administrative segregation, Duggar threw Mrs. Tapia into a segregation cell and left her there, naked, without blankets for the entire night. Jail policy requires that every inmate see a psychiatrist before being placed in administrative segregation, but Mrs. Tapia never saw a doctor. The jail guards failed to inspect her cell every fifteen minutes (as required by policy), and Mrs. Tapia was found hanging in her cell that night. “The jail drove this young woman to kill herself,” said Scott Medlock, the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Prisoners’ Rights Attorney. “From the minute she was booked into this facility, she was abused and ignored by jail officials.” Medlock said the private prison system was to blame for Mrs. Tapia’s death. Val Verde County and the US Marshals Service contract with GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Security, to run the jail. “When prisons and jails are privatized the company’s bottom line is placed above inmate health and safety. GEO cuts corners by hiring poorly trained guards, providing inmates with cut rate medical care and running their facility in a grossly unprofessional manner. Mrs. Tapia’s family had their wife, mother and daughter sacrificed to corporate greed.” Mrs. Tapia’s family is seeking monetary damages, but that is little consolation. “No amount of money could bring her back,” her husband, Eliodoro Tapia, said. For more information, please contact Scott Medlock, at (512) 474-5073 ext. 105.

November 20, 2005 Del Rio News Herald
Raymond Edward Haynes has filed a federal lawsuit charging the company he works for, The GEO Group Inc., discriminated against him because of his race. But the GEO Group Inc.'s attorney, Bridget R. Robinson, of the Austin law firm of Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Schulze and Aldridge, said Haynes' "hurt feelings" about several isolated incidents at the GEO Group's Val Verde County Detention Center are not enough to justify his claims that he was discriminated against. Haynes' attorney, Mark Anthony Sánchez, of the San Antonio law firm of Gale, Wilson & Sanchez, filed the suit in U.S. District Court here earlier this year. Haynes said he was grateful to get a job as a correctional officer at the Val Verde County Detention Center, which the GEO Group operates as part of a contract with Val Verde County. He went to work there in February 2003, and he continues to work there today. Haynes, who comes from a family of career lawmen, said his gratitude became disbelief, then horror, then outrage when, in September 2003, he said he saw a hangman's noose displayed in the office of a supervisor, Capt. Albert Lacy. Sánchez in the complaint also charged that the same supervisor, Lacy, "took photographs of himself in Ku Klux Klan head regalia while in his GEO Group or Wackenhut Corrections Corporation uniform. He (Lacy) maintained these photographs in his desk drawer at the Val Verde County Jail, photographs that were eventually discovered and made public. Together with the hangman's noose, the introduction of Ku Klux Klan paraphernalia by Plaintiff's (Haynes') supervisor into Plaintiff's workplace resulting in a suffocating pall of hate to permeate the Val Verde County Jail." The complaint also charges that Haynes "informed his supervisors and filed internal complaints about Lacy's racist conduct in October 2003, but (the GEO Group Inc.) delayed until December 2003 before commencing any type of investigation."

September 7, 2005 Del Rio News-Herald
Val Verde County Commissioners Court quickly and amicably passed the proposed 2005-2006 county budget Tuesday morning. The approved budget estimates that the county will receive a total of $23,333,485 in general fund revenues during the 2005-2006 Fiscal Year, which begins Oct. 1, 2005 and ends Sept. 30, 2006. The $23,333,485 in estimated county revenues for the coming fiscal year include payments totaling $13,440,000 the county will receive through its contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Service for the housing of federal prisoners in the county jail. As the approved budget shows, that $13.4 million will go right back out again as an expenditure, with most being paid to The GEO Group Inc., the private company that has a contract with the county for operation of the jail.

August 15, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
Inside the walls of the Val Verde Correctional Facility in Del Rio, a hangman's noose was displayed in a jail captain's office and a picture of the uniformed guard in a Ku Klux Klan hood was found in his desk. Those are the claims made in a lawsuit filed by corrections officer Raymond E. Haynes. In the lawsuit, filed earlier this year against the Florida-based company that runs the jail, Haynes contends he and other blacks were subjected to a hostile work environment. Haynes, who has worked at the jail since February 2003, alleges that there existed a pattern of racial slurs and pejorative stereotypical comments by other ranking officers. He also alleges that his superiors denied him promotions and unfairly disciplined him because of his race. The photo of the captain, in his jail uniform and wearing KKK regalia, was found in his desk during his absence, according to internal jail documents. The EEOC found that there was reasonable cause to believe the captain hung the noose, creating a racially offensive work environment. But the agency said it could not conclude whether Haynes was disciplined and denied promotions because of his race, or whether he was subjected to racial slurs. "Specifically, the evidence shows that there was a noose hanging in a captain's office, and at least two of (the jail's) lieutenants were aware of the noose but did not take immediate or corrective action," the EEOC determination states.

January 13, 2005 Del Rio News-Herald
With nearly three-quarters of the fiscal year still ahead, Val Verde County officials already have been warned to expect a significant shortfall in the county budget. Housing local prisoners in the county jail and paying for court-appointed attorneys are the two expenses being blamed for the expected shortfall. “These two line items are absolute devastating to us right now,” County Auditor Frank Lowe told Val Verde County Commissioners Court. “We budgeted $25,000 to $30,000 a month for local prisoners, but we’ve been running $85,000 to $90,000 a month,” Lowe said.

January 1, 2005 Del Rio News-Herald
A former jailer at the Val Verde County Jail spent a night locked up there recently and faces up to 10 years in prison after he admitted to sheriff’s office investigators he smuggled marijuana into the jail to give to an inmate – for a fee of $30. “He definitely, at least in my opinion, ruined his life for $30,” said John Campbell, who serves as warden of the jail for The GEO Group Inc., the private company that operates that jail under contract with Val Verde County. “It’s hard to comprehend that someone would risk all that for $30,” he said. Valentin Nava Jr., 21, 202 E. 2nd St., was charged with bringing in and possessing a prohibited substance in a correctional facility, a third degree felony. CID Lt. Larry Pope said Nava is accused of picking up a baggie containing 8.3 grams of marijuana in the parking lot of the Burger King restaurant while he was on a break from his jail job. “Bringing contraband into jails, whether it’s marijuana or cigarettes, anything like that, is not an uncommon problem,” Pope said in an interview earlier this week. Pope wrote in his report that after his arrest, Nava “admitted he was bringing the marijuana in to give to a prisoner.”

Webb County Detention Center
Laredo, Texas
CCA
March 1, 2006 KGBT
Two now-former correction officers at a privately run unit have been arrested today on charges they dealt drugs at the prison. Thirty-five-year-old Velma Lydia Garza and 53-year-old Patricia Orozco are in the Webb County Jail. They're expected to appear tomorrow before a judge in Laredo. Investigators say both were arrested at their homes following a multi-agency investigation that included Corrections Corporation of America. C-C-A runs the federal prison where the women worked. William Gruenz with the U-S Marshals Service says neither had been currently employed at the prison. He offered no further details. Both women are charged with delivery of a controlled substance and engaging in organized criminal activity.

Willacy County Federal Detention Center
Raymondville, TX
Corplan, Management & Training Corporation
July 26, 2006 Valley Morning Star
The county may be spending more than necessary to build a new detention center for illegal immigrants, Willacy County Attorney Juan Angel Guerra charged Monday. Guerra said that the companies behind the $60.6 million detention center over-billed the county by more than $15 million. Other companies could have constructed the project's 10 Kevlar-covered domes for $30 million to $35 million, Guerra said. "Nobody questioned it," Guerra said of county commissioners who voted 3-2 last week to borrow $60.6 million to build the 2,000-bed detention center. "The price is just ridiculous. Nobody did a comparison," Guerra said. "They spend more time when they buy a truck or a tractor, to call dealerships to see if they can get a better deal." Last month, commissioners entered into a two-year contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build the detention center that's part of a national crackdown on illegal immigration. In a contract, companies behind the project put the cost of construction materials at $20 million and the labor costs at $30 million, Guerra said. Commissioners planned to issue about $50 million to fund the project. But costs jumped to $60.6 million to include $3 million to buy equipment to operate the detention center, $3 million to set up a reserve fund and $3 million in interest payments. Guerra pointed to four areas in which he said the contractor "inflated" costs. While Kevlar material costs $3.3 million, the contractor billed the county for $4.6 million, Guerra said. While the contractor billed the county for $3.6 million to prepare the 53-acre site for construction, other companies said they could have done the job for $1.6 million, Guerra said. The contractor billed the county for $2.8 million for sewer work, but other companies said they could have done the job for $800,000. And other companies said paving the asphalt parking lot would cost $150,000, the contractor billed the county for $400,000, Guerra said. "We cannot justify these costs," Guerra said.

July 23, 2006 Express News
The Willacy County attorney is speaking out against his county's new contract for a massive detention center because he said it involves companies still under a cloud from the 2004 bribery convictions of three elected officials. Juan Angel Guerra also accuses veteran Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, of going back on his word by continuing to represent the same firms. Former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and the late Jose Jimenez were convicted in 2004 of accepting bribes in exchange for favorable votes regarding a 600-bed prison that opened in Raymondville, the county seat, in 2003. The third convicted official, Webb County Commissioner David Cortez, was an associate of CorPlan Corrections, a consulting company at the time of the prison project. Cortez was accused of funneling the bribe money for favorable votes on contracts. No company employees, however, have been charged. Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment on the case, but observers believe the investigation is ongoing because the commissioners' sentencing dates have been pushed back several times. Meanwhile, the same firms are building a 2,000-bed detention facility near the same prison. Willacy commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday to approve $60.6 million in bonds for the new facility, which is on a fast-track construction schedule to house mostly non-Mexican undocumented immigrants in a series of tentlike structures for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Utah-based Management Training Corp., or MTC, will operate the facility; Houston-based Hale-Mills Construction Inc. is building it; and Argyle-based CorPlan is consulting on the project, said Guerra, who is the county and district attorney. A May 27, 2005, letter from commissioners to the county's nonprofit corporation set up to oversee the federal prison project asked it to "terminate its contractual relationship with CorPlan," because a Willacy County lawsuit against the firm alleged it was involved with the bribes. "Now they are asking me to sign a contract that includes CorPlan," Guerra said. "I told the commissioners you can't have it both ways. First you pass the resolution saying you don't want to deal with CorPlan. Now you do a contract that I know for a fact includes CorPlan. So we are back to square one." The lawsuit was dropped in April. County Judge Simon Salinas said he wasn't aware of the letter and resolution that prompted it. It's probably too late anyway, he added. "The contract is already signed, the work is already begun," he said. Regardless, Salinas said, the county can't proceed under the assumption that leaders of the companies are criminals. "In this country we are innocent until proven guilty," he said. "And nobody out there pressed charges against the companies. ... Just because these (commissioners) plead guilty doesn't mean everybody in the world is guilty." Guerra favored Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which offered to finance the detention facility on its own rather than through the county. He said the commissioners initially favored CCA, but later picked MTC. Commissioner Noe Loya said Guerra "is trying to find every excuse to hire CCA, and change our minds, but it's over." Guerra said he met with Lucio two weeks ago and the veteran lawmaker pushed MTC. "I asked him, 'Are you talking to me as my senator or as an employee of one of these companies?'" Guerra said. "He told me he was talking to me as a consultant." Lucio said he met with Guerra because it "appeared that he had quite a bit of influence on the Commissioners Court." Lucio said he told Guerra he favored MTC because it treats its employees well. Lucio said he thought CorPlan had been cleared because the lawsuit filed on behalf of Willacy County against James Parkey, president of CorPlan, was dropped and there have been no other arrests. Parkey did not return a call seeking comment. "My main focus on talking with Johnny (Guerra) was trying to sell him on the fact that MTC was a very reputable company," Lucio said. "I feel very comfortably speaking on their behalf and asking them to consider us and that was my main focus." According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Lucio reported in 2005 that MTC and CorPlan paid him a total of at least $50,000 through his Brownsville company, Rio Shelters Inc. In the wake of the bribery scandal, Lucio said he had stopped representing the firms and wouldn't again until the matter was cleared up. "I know there has been a case, a problem, a situation there where somebody associated with (Parkey) out of Laredo was indicted and convicted," Lucio said, referring to Cortez. "But when the lawsuit against him was dropped, I felt that he was exonerated." Told that the bribery investigation may still be open, he said: "If it is, I am not aware of it." Asked if he was being paid by MTC or CorPlan for encouraging the detention center contract, he said: "It's up to them if they feel I did a good job." Lucio said it was "very hard to draw a fine line" between his job as a lawmaker and his private work, but added: "I can tell you this: I do my best." "I get paid $600 a month to be a state senator, and I do it just about on a full-time basis," he said. Damon Hiniger, a vice president of CCA in Tennessee, said he was surprised by the county's decision because CCA was going to invest its own money, pay about $1.8 million in property taxes, and shoulder the risk. Judge Salinas said he was influenced by the bottom line, nothing more. "I have nothing against CCA, they are a good reputable company, but they are in the business to make their own bucks," he said. The detention facility is to open Aug. 1 with 500 beds, and then have 1,500 more available Oct. 1. It is part of President Bush's Secure Border Initiative.

July 20, 2006 Valley Morning Star
State Sen. Eddie Lucio resumed consulting work with a company that he says offers Willacy County hundreds of jobs and a steady flow of revenue for years to come. Last year, Lucio suspended business with Management Training Corp. and two other companies involved in the development of a $14.5 million prison project that was the focus of a federal bribery investigation. That investigation led to the convictions of former Willacy County commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez. In letters to the companies, Lucio wrote he was taking "a leave of absence" from consulting work "until this matter is resolved." At the time, Lucio asked the Texas Attorney General's Office and the state Ethics Commission to review his work as a consultant. "I can do business with companies that do business with the federal government," Lucio said the agencies determined. Lucio resumed work for MTC as the company sought a Willacy County contract to operate a $60.6 million detention center to hold illegal immigrants. Last week, commissioners voted 3-2 to give MTC a two-year contract to operate the detention center. "They're an outstanding operation," Lucio said of the Utah-based company that operates a 525-bed county-owned prison here. Lucio declined to disclose his fee. Monday, commissioners voted 3-2 to issue $60.6 million in bonds to build the detention center that's part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's crackdown on illegal immigration. "I think Willacy County will come out ahead," Lucio said. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for hundreds of jobs." Lucio said his work with MTC was limited to a meeting with County Attorney Juan Angel Guerra. In the meeting, Lucio talked 30 to 45 minutes with Guerra, who recommended that commissioners hire Corrections Corporation of America, which proposed working with investors to fund the project's costs. "He had questions whether MTC was a reputable company," said Lucio, who owns Rio Consulting in Brownsville. "He was very, very out to get the commissioners to hire CCA. All we did was talk about the qualifications of MTC and why it would be a better deal." Under MTC's contract, the county will own the detention center, Lucio said. "It's a ($60) million asset at the end," Lucio said, referring to county payments that run through 2009. "This is going to be a ... facility for the future. They can continue the same situation. I'm going to push MTC to make sure they fulfill the wishes of Willacy County. What we need to do is insure that inmates are brought to that facility." Lucio said he stood behind company projections that show the federal government will fill the detention center with more than 1,800 illegal immigrants. "The federal government is in dire need," Lucio said of detention center beds. County commissioners Aurelio Guerra and Abiel Cantu voted against hiring MTC because they questioned whether the federal government could fill the detention center with illegal immigrants for which the company would pay at least $2.25 a head. But steps such as hiring more U.S. Border Patrol agents and the placement of National Guard troops along the border will increase arrests of illegal immigrants, Lucio said. "Even President Bush is beefing up the border," he said. "(But) nothing is going to stop people from (crossing the border) to seek the American dream. I think more people are going to get caught." Cantu and Aurelio Guerra also voted against the company's hiring because they argued that the federal government would restrict the county from spending detention center revenues on county expenditures. Lucio said he did not know the specifics of the contract. "That's up to the Commissioners Court to look into the specifics of the contract," he said. Lucio denied Juan Angel Guerra's claim that he was working for Corplan Corrections, an Irving-based prison consulting firm, in the detention center project. Juan Angel Guerra said Lucio told him that he worked for James Parkey, Corplan's president. Last year, Lucio said he suspended ties with Corplan, MTC and Aguirre Corp. of Dallas after Tamez and Jimenez pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in bribes in exchange for votes to hire a consultant in the $14.5 million prison project that the companies helped to develop. Lucio said he resumed work with Corplan after McAllen attorney Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo County's judge, dropped a lawsuit against Corplan and Houston-based Hale Mills construction in April. "When they were exonerated ... it cleared the path," Lucio said. "I work for them anytime I like to. I like Mr. Parkey. He's a good man. As far as I'm concerned, he's a reputable person." However, Lucio said his work with Corplan did not involve the detention center project. Last month, Willacy County commissioners entered into a two-year contract with Homeland Security to construct tent-like domes to hold 500 beds by Aug. 2. As part of the contract, the detention center will expand to 2,000 beds within 90 days.

July 16, 2006 Valley Morning Star
Federal officials said last week that it's not their intention to fill up a 2,000-bed detention center that would hold illegal immigrants before deportation. But Willacy County commissioners are banking on a private prison company that claims the federal government will pay the county nearly $12 million to house 2,000 prisoners there. "I can't guarantee those numbers," Nina Pruneda, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Antonio, said of the inmate count. "It's not a question of filling beds," she said. "It's making sure we have operational beds ready." The $50 million detention center made up of 10 Kevlar-covered domes is part of the federal government's national crackdown on illegal immigration, officials said. Last month, county commissioners entered into a two-year contract with Homeland Security in the construction of tent-like domes to house 500 beds by Aug. 2. As part of the contract, the detention center would expand to 2,000 beds within 90 days. This month, commissioners picked Utah-based Management Training Corp. to operate the detention center. But the Willacy County Local Government Corp., a nonprofit board organized to oversee the project, failed to ratify the contract. Thursday, commissioners held off on the issue of $50 million in bonds amid concerns that the federal government may not fill up the detention center with prisoners for whom it would pay a daily rate per detainee. In South Texas, the new detention center would boost the number of beds open to illegal immigrants to 5,200, Pruneda said. The agency decided to build the Willacy County detention center rather than expand its detention center in Port Isabel, which houses 800 beds, Pruneda said. "The decision to open a facility in Willacy was an operational decision," she said. Wednesday, consultants warned that the federal government would likely restrict the county to the expenditure of "administrative" fees of as little as $2.25 a day per prisoner. The "county's current approach may open the county to substantial liability to the federal government," warned the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld of Washington, D.C. The consultants noted the federal contract specifies the county "shall not charge for costs which are not directly related to the housing and detention of detainees." "It specifically identifies costs for which the county may not charge, such as certain salaries, indirect costs and services and facilities that are not used by the federal detainees," the consultants wrote. The consultants cited a case in which Homeland Security required Pennsylvania's York County to return as much as $58.5 million after it allegedly spent detention center revenue on unauthorized expenses.

July 12, 2006 Valley Morning Star
The new detention center for illegal immigrants may not be the financial windfall that county officials imagine, the county attorney said. Willacy County Attorney Juan Angel Guerra warned commissioners that the federal government may restrict the spending of money generated by a new $50 million detention center. A contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security restricts spending to the detention of illegal immigrants, Guerra told commissioners. "It is very clear that you have to justify every single amount of money and if you can't justify it, the money goes back" to Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Guerra told commissioners in a Monday meeting. Last month, the county entered into a contract with Homeland Security to sell $50 million in bonds to develop a 2,000-bed detention center to house illegal immigrants. In the meeting, Guerra warned that Homeland Security required Pennsylvania's York County to return as much as $58.5 million allegedly spent on unauthorized expenses.

July 6, 2006 San Antonio Express-News
Willacy County officials haven't formally decided who will get to build the state's largest immigration detention facility — but that hasn't stopped a Houston company from beginning work on the massive project. Hale-Mills Construction has had crews at the site of the planned $50 million jail for the past two weeks, leveling land and pouring concrete for the foundation. The company began working on the 2,000-bed facility after county officials signed an agreement June 19 with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees. Without a county decision on how to pay for it or, more importantly, who would be hired to build it, Hale-Mills began clearing a cotton field in Raymondville the next day. County officials are working out other details, such as how the county will pay for the facility's construction and if Hale-Mills will build it, Vela said. County Judge Simon Salinas said the company is working at its own risk and has no guarantees it will be chosen to finish the job. The county formed the public facilities corporation to issue $50 million in lease revenue bonds to investors to fund construction. Although no bonds have been issued and the county hasn't identified the corporation's governing board, that board is set to meet today to pick officers, consider hiring Vela as its lawyer and consider approving a contract with Hale-Mills. It will also consider hiring a private jail company to operate the facility after it is completed.

Willacy County State Jail
Raymondville, TX
Corplan/MTC
August 23, 2006 Valley Star
Willacy County officials will have to pay as much as $600,000 to bail out the new $7.5 million jail that has run short of money to pay investors who could foreclose, County Judge Simon Salinas said. The financially strapped county will have to set aside about $600,000 as officials work on a proposed $3.5 million budget that's unlikely to include $300,000 to reinstate employee health insurance. "It's a hard pill to swallow," Salinas said. The decision came after a Friday meeting in which Salinas and Sheriff Larry Spence agreed to a study that will help determine whether the county will run the jail or turn over operations to a management company. Management and Training Corp. (MTC), the Utah-based company that operates a 525-bed, county-owned prison and the county's new $60 million immigration detention center, will conduct the study at no charge, Salinas said. "It's kind of a feasibility study that looks at different options," Spence said. Friday, officials met with J.C. Conner, MTC's vice president, and Michael Harling of Municipal Capital Markets Group of Dallas, which handled the sale of bonds to fund construction of the county's jail, prison and the immigration detention center. After the meeting, Salinas said the county will have to budget about $600,000 to help the jail make its second payment in November. Like some commissioners, Salinas had said the county couldn't afford to bail out the jail. When county officials made plans to build the jail, they counted on housing federal prisoners to pay off project costs. Under the county's plan, federal prisoners - many of whom would be female inmates - would take up 48 of the jail's 96 beds. But the Marshals Service has failed to come through with a steady flow of prisoners, officials said. Spence has said the county's federal inmate count has steadily climbed to about 35. After a sex scandal, the Marshals Service hasn't housed female prisoners in the jail. In April, the Marshals Service removed 19 female prisoners from the jail amid the scandal. After an internal investigation, sheriff's officials fired two female guards after female prisoners accused them of offering favors to female inmates. A Texas Rangers investigation later led authorities to arrest a male guard accused of having sex with a female prisoner.

August 1, 2006 Valley Star
Willacy county commissioners won't bail out the new $7.5 million county jail if it can't afford to pay investors, County Judge Simon Salinas said Monday. Instead, commissioners may hire a private management company to operate the jail, Commissioner Aurelio Guerra said. But Sheriff Larry Spence warned that the county would pay as much $70 a day to house its prisoners in a privately operated jail. Monday, the jail held 49 county prisoners, he said. As commissioners work on their proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, they won't set aside $566,000 to make the jail's second payment, Salinas said. "I will not bail (it) out with local money," Salinas said. "I will not do it again." In late April, commissioners agreed to pay investors more than $137,000 after the jail ran short of money to make its first payment. The Willacy County Public Facilities Corp., a non-profit organization that oversees the jail that opened in October 2004, must make its second payment in November. Under the county's plan, federal prisoners - many of whom would be female inmates - would take up 48 of the jail's 96 beds. "We were told that was the need," Sheriff Larry Spence said of the plan to house female prisoners. "If we could build a facility to house females, (the Marshal's Service) would more than likely keep it full." But the Marshals Service has failed to come through with a steady flow of prisoners, officials said. Monday, the jail held 35 federal prisoners, Spence said. Since an April sex scandal, the Marshals Service hasn't housed female prisoners in the jail. "That definitely caused a problem," Spence said. In April, the sex scandal led the Marshals Service to remove 19 female prisoners from the jail.

July 23, 2006 Express News
The Willacy County attorney is speaking out against his county's new contract for a massive detention center because he said it involves companies still under a cloud from the 2004 bribery convictions of three elected officials. Juan Angel Guerra also accuses veteran Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, of going back on his word by continuing to represent the same firms. Former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and the late Jose Jimenez were convicted in 2004 of accepting bribes in exchange for favorable votes regarding a 600-bed prison that opened in Raymondville, the county seat, in 2003. The third convicted official, Webb County Commissioner David Cortez, was an associate of CorPlan Corrections, a consulting company at the time of the prison project. Cortez was accused of funneling the bribe money for favorable votes on contracts. No company employees, however, have been charged. Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment on the case, but observers believe the investigation is ongoing because the commissioners' sentencing dates have been pushed back several times. Meanwhile, the same firms are building a 2,000-bed detention facility near the same prison. Willacy commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday to approve $60.6 million in bonds for the new facility, which is on a fast-track construction schedule to house mostly non-Mexican undocumented immigrants in a series of tentlike structures for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Utah-based Management Training Corp., or MTC, will operate the facility; Houston-based Hale-Mills Construction Inc. is building it; and Argyle-based CorPlan is consulting on the project, said Guerra, who is the county and district attorney. A May 27, 2005, letter from commissioners to the county's nonprofit corporation set up to oversee the federal prison project asked it to "terminate its contractual relationship with CorPlan," because a Willacy County lawsuit against the firm alleged it was involved with the bribes. "Now they are asking me to sign a contract that includes CorPlan," Guerra said. "I told the commissioners you can't have it both ways. First you pass the resolution saying you don't want to deal with CorPlan. Now you do a contract that I know for a fact includes CorPlan. So we are back to square one." The lawsuit was dropped in April. County Judge Simon Salinas said he wasn't aware of the letter and resolution that prompted it. It's probably too late anyway, he added. "The contract is already signed, the work is already begun," he said. Regardless, Salinas said, the county can't proceed under the assumption that leaders of the companies are criminals. "In this country we are innocent until proven guilty," he said. "And nobody out there pressed charges against the companies. ... Just because these (commissioners) plead guilty doesn't mean everybody in the world is guilty." Guerra favored Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which offered to finance the detention facility on its own rather than through the county. He said the commissioners initially favored CCA, but later picked MTC. Commissioner Noe Loya said Guerra "is trying to find every excuse to hire CCA, and change our minds, but it's over." Guerra said he met with Lucio two weeks ago and the veteran lawmaker pushed MTC. "I asked him, 'Are you talking to me as my senator or as an employee of one of these companies?'" Guerra said. "He told me he was talking to me as a consultant." Lucio said he met with Guerra because it "appeared that he had quite a bit of influence on the Commissioners Court." Lucio said he told Guerra he favored MTC because it treats its employees well. Lucio said he thought CorPlan had been cleared because the lawsuit filed on behalf of Willacy County against James Parkey, president of CorPlan, was dropped and there have been no other arrests. Parkey did not return a call seeking comment. "My main focus on talking with Johnny (Guerra) was trying to sell him on the fact that MTC was a very reputable company," Lucio said. "I feel very comfortably speaking on their behalf and asking them to consider us and that was my main focus." According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Lucio reported in 2005 that MTC and CorPlan paid him a total of at least $50,000 through his Brownsville company, Rio Shelters Inc. In the wake of the bribery scandal, Lucio said he had stopped representing the firms and wouldn't again until the matter was cleared up. "I know there has been a case, a problem, a situation there where somebody associated with (Parkey) out of Laredo was indicted and convicted," Lucio said, referring to Cortez. "But when the lawsuit against him was dropped, I felt that he was exonerated." Told that the bribery investigation may still be open, he said: "If it is, I am not aware of it." Asked if he was being paid by MTC or CorPlan for encouraging the detention center contract, he said: "It's up to them if they feel I did a good job." Lucio said it was "very hard to draw a fine line" between his job as a lawmaker and his private work, but added: "I can tell you this: I do my best." "I get paid $600 a month to be a state senator, and I do it just about on a full-time basis," he said. Damon Hiniger, a vice president of CCA in Tennessee, said he was surprised by the county's decision because CCA was going to invest its own money, pay about $1.8 million in property taxes, and shoulder the risk. Judge Salinas said he was influenced by the bottom line, nothing more. "I have nothing against CCA, they are a good reputable company, but they are in the business to make their own bucks," he said. The detention facility is to open Aug. 1 with 500 beds, and then have 1,500 more available Oct. 1. It is part of President Bush's Secure Border Initiative.

May 25, 2005 Valley Star
Willacy County commissioners will request that the Willacy County Public Facilities Corp. break its contract with a company that is a defendant in a county lawsuit. But rankled members of the Public Facilities Corp. (PFC) said they would stand by their vote to hire Corplan Corrections, a prison consultant in Irving. If PFC members refuse the request, commissioners could remove them, County Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said Tuesday, following commissioners’ request on Monday that the PFC terminate its contract with Corplan Corrections. On May 12, the PFC voted to hire Corplan to begin work on a 500-bed addition to a $14.5 million federal prison. The project’s cost had not been estimated, officials said. On May 13, Willacy County filed a lawsuit against Corplan and Hale Mills Inc., the contractor in the prison project. Willacy County formed the PFC as a nonprofit organization charged with the development of the prison project. In the lawsuit filed by attorney Ramon Garcia, the Hidalgo County judge, Willacy County claims illegal action voided the contract that led to the prison’s construction. The prison project has been the focus of an ongoing federal bribery investigation that has led to the convictions of two former Willacy County commissioners and a former Webb County commissioner.

May 21, 2005 Valley Star
The Willacy County Public Facilities Corp.’s decision to hire a company that is a defendant in a Willacy County lawsuit could jeopardize the case, District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said Friday. On May 12, the Public Facilities Corp. hired Corplan Corrections to expand the $14.5 million federal prison, a project that sparked a bribery scandal that led to the convictions of two former Willacy County commissioners and a former Webb County commissioner. The move would lead to the construction of a 500-bed addition to the prison, which opened with 500 beds in late 2003. The project’s cost had not been estimated, officials said. A day later, on May 13, Willacy County filed a lawsuit against Corplan, an Irving consulting firm, and Hale Mills Inc., a Houston contractor, claiming illegal action voided the contract that led to the prison’s construction. "It’s premature to enter into further contracts with those companies, especially with a pending lawsuit," Guerra said. Willacy County formed the Public Facilities Corp. as a nonprofit organization charged with development of the prison project. The Public Facilities Corp. owns the prison. Attorney Ramon Garcia, the Hidalgo County judge who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Willacy County, declined to comment on whether the Public Facilities Corp.’s action jeopardized the lawsuit. "I’ve been hired to represent parties regarding the facility that’s already been constructed," said Garcia, who Guerra said was working on a contingent fee that would pay him 40 percent of any damages awarded. "These are separate and distinct transactions." In the lawsuit, Willacy County claims former Webb County Commissioner David Cortez worked as a consultant to the two companies when he funneled about $39,000 to "several" Willacy County commissioners. In turn, former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez agreed to vote to select the companies for the project, the lawsuit claims. In March, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen convicted Cortez of funneling about $39,000 in bribes to "several" Willacy County commissioners in exchange for their votes to hire a consultant in the prison project. In January, Hanen convicted Tamez and Jimenez after they pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in bribes in the project. An ongoing federal and state investigation is expected to lead to charges against at least one other Willacy County elected official, authorities have said.

May 18, 2005 AP
Willacy County has filed a lawsuit against two companies involved in a $14.5 million federal prison project that became entwined in a bribery scheme. The civil lawsuit was filed last week in state district court against Corplan Corrections of Argyle and Hale Mills Inc. of Houston. The suit claims the companies conspired to bribe county commissioners to select them for the construction project. Although the lawsuit does not specify damages, District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said the financially troubled county could get title to the prison. "The contract would be null and void, so technically the prison would end up belonging to the county free of charge," Guerra said in Thursday editions of the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen.

March 25, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
A third former South Texas county commissioner charged in connection with a bribery scandal surrounding a detention facility in the Rio Grande Valley was convicted Thursday in Brownsville. Authorities said others could be charged. David Cortez, 70, of Laredo, a former Webb County commissioner, was charged, pleaded guilty and was convicted Thursday of conspiring to "obstruct, delay and affect commerce" for his role in helping secure a contract for the Willacy County Adult Correctional Center in Raymondville. He waived his right to have a grand jury investigate. The charge accused him of funneling at least $39,000 to help a consulting firm get part of the job. Cortez is cooperating with the FBI in an ongoing investigation, authorities said. He was released on a personal recognizance bond and is scheduled to be sentenced June 28. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The name of the consulting company he secured the bids for was not released. Two former Willacy County commissioners, Jose Jimenez of Sebastian and Israel Tamez of Raymondville, pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to accepting bribes of $10,000 or more for their votes awarding contracts to build the 500-bed detention facility used for federal inmates. Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said the Dallas-area firms CorPlan Corrections LTD and Aguirre Inc., along with Management & Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, and Hale-Mills Construction of Houston, were the companies hired to either design, build or manage the Raymondville facility, which opened in 2003. "Most of these guys have worked together on several projects," Spence said. Asked to confirm that Cortez had worked for CorPlan, the firm's director, James Parkey, said by phone, "I have no comment on that. Obviously that's a tickly subject and I could refer you to my attorney." According to a charging document, "several Willacy County commissioners did solicit and receive things of value" from Cortez "in exchange for providing advantages not available to others interested in and competing for the selection of a consultant" for the facility. "It was further part of the conspiracy that several Willacy County commissioners did agree to tacitly and implicitly to provide (Cortez) and other corporate representatives with assurances in their capacity" as commissioners, that Cortez and the company he represented "would receive favorable consideration" in exchange for money, the document states. The commissioners agreed to accept the money in June 2000 and were paid around October 2002, according to court records.

February 26, 2005 Houston Chronicle
When traditional jobs in agriculture and the oil patch began to shrink, Willacy County saw salvation in prisons and jails. A 540-bed jail opened for federal prisoners in 2003 and a 96-bed county jail is now nearing completion, both located next to an existing state jail at the main crossroads of this rural county in the deep Rio Grande Valley. In addition to the jobs provided at the facilities, county officials envisioned ringing cash registers as inmates' families made visits, spending money at local hotels, gas stations and restaurants. But today, the optimism has been overshadowed by scandal. A pair of county commissioners await sentencing in April after admitting taking bribes from corporate executives in exchange for voting on jail contracts. The executives haven't been identified in federal charges. Compounding all that is a dramatic drop in the number of inmates being housed in the federal facility. Since November, the U.S. Marshals Service has removed more than 200 prisoners to jails in neighboring Cameron County, where jail costs are nearly half what Willacy jailers are paid under the existing federal contract. Willacy's 2005 budget counted on a projected $300,000 payment from Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, the private management firm that operates the jail. Willacy County receives a $2 share of the $70-plus daily payment received for each federal inmate. Today, there are about 300 inmates in the 540-bed jail, and the private management company acknowledges it is losing money. Executives with the companies that built and manage the federal jail strongly deny any involvement with the bribery scandal. Hale-Mills Construction Inc., a Houston firm that built both the federal jail and the nearly completed county jail, which cost $7.5 million in financing and construction, did not return repeated calls for comment. But the firm issued a statement denying any knowledge of the bribes. Edmundo Ramirez, a McAllen attorney representing Corplan Corrections of Argyle, the project manager, said, ''We have no involvement with that (bribery) at all." District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said the first sign of any criminal wrongdoing surfaced when the county's public facilities corporation — created in 1999 to build the federal jail — received a $45,700 bill for a credit card account. Authorities soon learned ex-county auditor Armando Rubalcaba, who was hired after Garcia left in late 1996, had opened the account without telling other county officials, Guerra said. Rubalcaba also chaired the jail facilities' board of directors. The bill included thousands of cash withdrawals the auditor made from a convenience store he owns, as well as charges for trips to Las Vegas resorts, airline travel and expensive meals. Rubalcaba, fired for incompetence in October 2003, pleaded no contest to theft charges last year and agreed to tell investigators all he knew about corruption in the county. He accepted a plea bargain that allows him to be free on probation for 10 years, and he must make restitution to the county. After that, the investigation moved quickly, and on Jan. 4, two commissioners — Jose Jimenez, 67, and Israel Tamez, 58, — pleaded guilty to accepting more than $10,000 ''from particular corporate representatives who were selected for design, construction, maintenance and management of the jail." So far, Justice Department officials have refused to say who made the payoffs.

February 10, 2005 Valley Star
Willacy County officials are "disappointed" in the U.S. Marshals Service’s placement of inmates in the federal prison that they built to bolster the county budget, County Judge Simon Salinas said Wednesday. This week, the inmate count stood at about 313 in the 500-bed prison, up from an average of about 260 from October to December, Sheriff Larry Spence said. But county officials had based their $3.8 million general fund budget on near-capacity inmate counts projected to generate $300,000. "They’re hitting us in the pocketbook," Salinas said. As part of an agreement, Management & Training Corp., the private firm that runs the prison, pays the county $2 a day for each federal inmate housed in the county-owned prison. County officials expected the inmate count to jump after last month’s meeting with U.S. Marshal Ben Reyna. Jan. 4, Spence and State Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, traveled to Reyna’s office in Washington, D.C., to discuss the drop in inmates. Lucio participated as a consultant to Management & Training Corp., the company that manages the prison. A year-end money crunch led the Marshals Service to transfer inmates to jails with lower housing costs, Spence said. In 2000, county commissioners entered into a contract to build the $14.5 million prison after the Marshals Service solicited the construction of a South Texas prison to hold its inmates. The prison opened in October 2003. Last month, a U.S. district judge convicted former County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez after they pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the prison project.

February 7, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, made the right decision by suspending his business ties, even if only temporarily, with three contractors connected to a federal detention facility at the center of a criminal investigation in the Rio Grande Valley. He should make it permanent. In announcing his decision, the South Texas legislator said he did not want any misperceptions about his business dealings. Lucio, president and CEO of Rio Shelters Inc. a marketing and advertising agency, has been on the payroll of the three companies involved in that public construction project for several years. His primary job was to introduce company officials to power brokers in the Rio Grande Valley. In interviews with the Brownsville Herald, Lucio said he has worked with CorPlan Corrections of Argyle, Aguirre Inc. of Dallas and the Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, since 1999 earning about $100,000 a year. If that is so, why didn't his employment with the three companies appear on his financial disclosure statements filed with the state until 2004? Lucio is correct when he says it is all about perception for a politician, and omitting vital information about his employers on his state officeholder reports raises serious questions.

January 20, 2005 Brownsville Herald
State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. on Tuesday temporarily suspended his consulting work for three companies involved with constructing and managing a Willacy County federal detention center — the focus of a federal bribery investigation. Lucio, D-Brownsville, told The Brownsville Herald on Wednesday that he has taken a “leave of absence” from representing James Parkey’s CorPlan Corrections of Argyle, Pedro Aguirre’s Aguirre Corp. of Dallas, and J.C. Conner’s Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Georgetown, until the federal inquiry in Willacy County concludes. Lucio said he would reassess the relationship with the firms that pay him about $100,000 a year combined. The federal investigation already has resulted in the Jan. 4 convictions of Willacy County commissioners Jose Jimenez of Sebastian and Israel Tamez of Raymondville for accepting at least $10,000 in bribes in exchange for their votes in awarding contracts for the center’s construction. U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby has not charged the corporate representatives who allegedly bribed Jimenez and Tamez. Companies involved in the project also have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Lucio said Wednesday that he has been on CorPlan’s payroll since 1999 and that the other two firms soon contracted him. He wouldn’t say when or how much each specifically has paid him for marketing the firms and introducing them to public officials. The Herald found, however, that it was not until 2004 that Lucio reported the companies in his financial statements. Asked if he believed that the companies would pay him more than $100,000 a year were he not a senator, Lucio said that “it might seem like a lot of money, and it is in our area of the state, but there are senators and representatives that are making much more money on one case than I do in one year. So, I am not ashamed of what I make. I worked for that.”

January 13, 2005 Valley Morning Star
State Sen. Eddie Lucio on Wednesday stood behind his work as a consultant for a company involved in a $14.5 million federal prison project in Willacy County. Last week, Lucio was working as a consultant for Corplan Corrections and Management & Training Corp. (MTC) when he went to Washington D.C., to discuss a recent drop in the federal prison’s inmate count with U.S. Marshals Service Director Ben Reyna. The prison project has become the subject of an investigation that led to the conviction of two Willacy County officials of taking bribes from at least one of the companies involved in the design and construction of the prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. No company has been named as the source of the bribes. The prison has been struggling to maintain the number of federal inmates it houses. A decline in the number has hurt Willacy County financially. The county for months has been struggling to keep from plunging into debt. MTC requested the meeting with Reyna, Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said, since the Marshals Service sends federal inmates to the prison. "I think it helped. It kind of opened the door," said Spence, who traveled to Washington, D.C. with Lucio and County Commissioner Noe Loya. Lucio’s connection to the prison goes back for several years. In 1999, Lucio "introduced" Corplan Corrections to Willacy County commissioners as they began to plan for a federal prison here, Lucio said of the Argyle consulting firm that worked to develop the project. Among Lucio’s clients is Aguirre Construction, the Dallas firm that designed the federal prison. Lucio also works as a consultant for MTC, the Utah firm that manages the prison. Last week, U.S. district Judge Andrew Hanen convicted former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez of taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the federal prison project. Federal prosecutors charged Tamez and Jimenez received kickbacks "from particular corporate representatives who were selected in the competition" for the prison project. The 500-bed prison’s inmate count dropped from near-capacity in early October to about 240 in December, Spence said, noting MTC pays the county $2 for every prisoner. The financially embattled county projected $300,000 in federal prison money to boost its $3.8 million general fund budget. A year-end money crunch led the Marshal’s Service to transfer inmates to prisons with lower housing costs, Spence said.

January 13, 2005 Brownsville Herald
Three companies with ties to state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, worked on the construction of the federal detention center in Willacy County, which is now the subject of an federal investigation into bribes. Inquiries already netted the Jan. 4 convictions of Willacy County commissioners Jose Jimenez, 67, of Sebastian, and Israel Tamez, 58, of Raymondville. They each pleaded guilty to accepting $10,000 or more in bribes from corporate representatives involved in the design, construction, financing, maintenance and management of the detention center, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby. According to public records, the primary companies involved in the project include jail consultant Corplan Corrections of Argyle, design-builder Hale-Mills Construction of Houston, Aguirre Corp. of Dallas, and the Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Utah, which manages the detention center. Federal Election Commission records also identify Corplan’s James M. Parkey as an architect with Aguirre Corp. Lucio has been on Corplan’s, Aguirre’s and MTC’s payroll for about four years for marketing, public relations and consulting work. He remains on the payrolls of at least Corplan and MTC, The Brownsville Herald found Wednesday. Asked if he was involved in wrongdoing, Lucio answered without hesitation. “Of course not,” he said. “You don’t even have to ask that.” In a prepared statement, Shelby said the two commissioners admitted to accepting a series of bribes from June 2000 through March 2003 in exchange for their votes awarding contracts for the construction of the detention center. In June 2000, The Brownsville Herald reported that Lucio authored legislation in 1999 clarifying that counties can enter into a contract with a private vendor for the design, management or construction of jails. Lucio was a consultant for MTC in 2000, which had been vying for the Cameron County detention center project. Lucio told The Brownsville Herald in 2002 and 2004 that Corplan, Aguirre, MTC and other firms contracted him for marketing, public relations and consulting work. He said this included introducing and setting up meetings with local governmental officials. Lucio’s 2003 financial statement filed in 2004 with the Texas Ethics Commission reflects that Aguirre paid him $10,000 to $24,999; TEDSI $25,000 or more; Corplan $25,000 or more; and MTC $25,000 or more. Lucio declined to tell The Brownsville Herald on Wednesday the specific amount of money Corplan and MTC paid him. He confirmed that he continues on their payroll, however.

January 8, 2005 Valley Morning Star
Willacy County commissioners will consider hiring attorney Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo County’s judge, to investigate whether there are grounds to sue companies involved in a federal prison project that paid kickbacks to two former commissioners. Friday, an attorney representing a company involved in the prison project vehemently denied Corplan Corrections was involved in any wrongdoing. Monday, commissioners will consider hiring Garcia to investigate whether there are grounds to file a civil lawsuit against companies involved in the $14.5 million federal prison and the current development of a $7.5 million county jail. "We’re not going to tolerate companies coming in to take advantage of small counties and offering kickbacks and going on like it’s business as usual," District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said. "Whoever offers kickbacks is just as guilty as those taking kickbacks." Tuesday, U.S. district Judge Andrew Hanen convicted former commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez of taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the federal prison project. Under the law, contracts that involve illegal activity are void, Guerra said. "Someone gave them that money," County Judge Simon Salinas said. "Whoever made these guys get dirty, they’re going to go down, too. I want them to pay for it. Someone’s going to take them on in the courtroom." The county could win "millions" of dollars in damages because a financial firm involved in the project has sold about $25 million in bonds — about $10 million more than the prison’s $14.5 million cost, Guerra said. But that bond money was used to pay interest, said Edmundo Ramirez, a McAllen attorney representing Corplan Corrections, a consultant in the federal prison project.

Willacy County Unit
Raymondville, TX
GEO (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
September 21, 2006 San Antonio Express-News
Gregorio De La Rosa was only four days from completing his sentence at a private prison in Raymondville when he was beaten to death in the prison yard on April 26, 2001. Late Friday, a Willacy County jury returned a $47.5 million verdict, the largest verdict in county history, in a negligence suit filed by his family against the Wackenhut Corrections Corp., which ran the prison, and the prison warden. "The evidence was disturbing. It showed a failure to properly search, inadequate staffing and improper response," said Ron Rodriguez, who represented the De La Rosa family. The verdict came after eight hours of deliberation, following a two-week trial. When he died, De La Rosa was serving a six-month sentence for a drug offense at the 1,000-bed prison. Calls to defense lawyer Bruce Garcia in Austin were referred by his office to the Geo Group, a Florida company that spun off from Wackenhut after the incident and operates the facility. The Geo Group runs more than 50 jails in the United States, as well as others in Australia, England, Canada and South Africa. Company spokesman Pablo Paez did not return calls for comment. There was no word if the company planned to appeal. According to the lawsuit, De La Rosa was beaten to death by two inmates who used padlocks stuffed into socks as weapons. The inmates, Daniel Sanchez and Pedro de Jesus Equia, were later charged with murder and pleaded guilty to lesser charges, receiving 20-year sentences, according to newspaper accounts. According to the lawsuit, De La Rosa's death was avoidable. "Inmates had used these very same padlocks as weapons to beat other inmates before De La Rosa's beating death. It was conclusively foreseeable that inmates would use these padlocks as weapons," the suit claimed. The suit also asserted, "Defendants had a pattern and practice of allowing beatings and fights between inmates for money, and a tradition of payback, whereby prisoners were beaten just before their release."

September 20, 2006 Laredo Morning Times
The family of a local man killed at a prison run by Wackenhut has been awarded $47.5 million by a Willacy County jury. The jury found Friday that warden David Forrest and Wackenhut, which changed its name to the GEO Group in 2003, were negligent in the 2001 death of Laredoan Gregorio De La Rosa Jr. “The evidence was indeed disturbing, and the verdict speaks for itself,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Ronald Rodriguez. It happened at Willacy State Jail in Raymondville, where De La Rosa, 33, was serving a jail sentence. On April 26, 2001, two other inmates beat De La Rosa to death using socks filled with padlocks. He suffered numerous injuries to the head, neck and back. His family accused the prison of negligence, saying officials failed to supervise De La Rosa’s assailants, weed out unqualified guards and screen inmates for weapons. Rodriguez also alleged that the prison destroyed a videotape of the beating. The administration was further accused of tolerating bribery and special favors for inmates in the prison. A defense attorney for Wackenhut referred inquiries to the GEO Group, which could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The 404th District Court jury had the option of dividing blame for the death between the prison corporation, the warden and De La Rosa himself. It declared the prison 75 percent negligent and the warden 25 percent negligent, and assigned no blame to De La Rosa. Part of the $47.5 million verdict was awarded to six relatives of De La Rosa’s on the basis of mental anguish and loss of companionship. The jury assessed $20 million in exemplary damages against the corporation and another $500,000 specifically against the warden. Rodriguez said he’s heard that the verdict is the largest in the history of Willacy County.

September 1, 2006 Valley Star
Testimony continued Thursday in the civil trial of a private prison company accused of negligence in the beating death of a Laredo prisoner. The family of Gregorio De La Rosa alleges Wackenhut Corrections Corp. failed to supervise two prisoners who used socks filled with padlocks to beat him on April 26, 2001. Thursday, attorney Ron Rodriguez tried to show the jury that the company inadequately trained its prison guards. Testimony included the company's videotaped dramatization that shows a prison guard telling a sexual assault victim that if he didn't want to be raped, he shouldn't have gone to prison. Testimony also included the company's videotaped interview of guards during an internal investigation of De La Rosa's death. A videotape showed a padlock attached to a white sock on the grassy prison yard where De La Rosa was beaten to death. Wackenhut operated the state's 1,000-bed Willacy Unit here. In the lawsuit, De La Rosa's family alleges Wackenhut "negligently allowed two assailants to beat to death Gregorio de la Rosa Jr. with socks filled with padlocks provided by Wackenhut." In the lawsuit, the family alleges the company destroyed a videotape that showed two inmates beating De La Rosa, 33, who was serving a six-month sentence in the facility for drug possession.

May 7, 2001
Electronic sensors for the fence surrounding the Willacy County Unit were not working the night George Hernandez escaped last November, the Valley Morning Star has learned. The fence's electronic sensors have not worked since the prison was built, Warden David Forrester told the Star. He confirmed that "six to eight" of the security television monitors in the prison were not operating the night of the escape. The warden said he's aware of two incidents when several security cameras have failed to operate. Forrester said that failure of the security fence sensors aided Hernandez's escape. If the fence sensors were operating, Hernandez would have been detected long before he could have made the escape. "There were sensors originally when it was built, but those sensors have not worked since the construction, " said Forrester. "So, we improvise. We use additional manpower." "This is a state-owned building. We (Wackenhut Corrections Corp.) manage it and operate it and keep up the general maintenance. Larry Todd, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said that in addition to the faulty monitors and the inoperable fence monitors, an important tool in preventing prison escapes was "asleep at the wheel." "We discovered much later that one of the outer perimeter patrol officers was sleeping in a car and not watching the fence," said Todd, in written statement to the Valley Morning Star. (Valley Morning Star)

November 17, 2000
A convicted robber escaped from a state jail before sunrise Friday by climbing over a razor-wire fence. George Luis-Hernandez was missing during a dawn head count and jailers discovered a trail of washcloths covering the sharp wire fence.

Williamson County Jail
Williamson, Texas
GEO Group
June 11, 2003
Williamson County's new jail is expected to be finished this fall, but county leaders aren't sure they'll be ready to open it for business. With construction slated to end in October, county commissioners and Sheriff John Maspero are still looking for the money and new employees they'll need to run the jail. So far, they've hit a few snags, disagreeing on everything from budget to staffing. As a result, the jail probably won't open until 2004. For the first time, they're also thinking about having a private company run the jail, although it will become home to county inmates now housed in a private jail in Taylor. The trouble began in April, when Maspero told commissioners he'd ideally like to hire 272 employees for the jail. Judge John Doerfler said that number was way too high. So Maspero whittled it down to 159 by, among other things, eliminating a work release program and replacing senior officers with lower-level staff members. He based that number on a study by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which recommended that the county hire 162 people. At last week's Commissioners Court meeting, Maspero had cut the estimate further, to 151. Assistant Chief Deputy Jack Hall, who runs the county jail, is worried that the county might be going too far, sacrificing safety to save money. "We've cut it to the bare bones," he told the commissioners. "I'm greatly concerned about the liability to the county if we inadequately staff it." Whether the commissioners decide to approve a high or low number, a money problem remains. It now costs about $4 million to house 250 extra inmates at the private jail in Taylor. Maspero estimates it'll cost $5.7 million to staff the new jail. At last week's Commissioners Court meeting, three commissioners passed around a calculator, crunching the numbers and, at times, appearing puzzled by the math. "The figures don't jive," Doerfler said. "Didn't we go into this process because it would be cheaper to run?" To make up the difference, the county may have to raise taxes 4 percent., he said. Maspero said $5.7 million is reasonable, given that the new jail is bigger and will house the county's entire inmate population. To cut costs, the commissioners are considering accepting bids from companies to privatize the jail. It's a controversial idea because for-profit groups sometimes hire less experienced officers for low salaries, which can put the county at risk of lawsuits. Maspero said he would have to approve the company and would also have to have a say in how the jail is managed. "It all gets down to what company would win the bid," Hall said. "Some companies are better than others. Some will hire the cheapest people they can." In 1999, the state had to take back control of one of its privatized jails, the Travis County Community Justice Center, after 13 guards and a caseworker were indicted on charges that included sexual assault and misconduct. Wackenhut Corrections Corp. was the private company under contract with the county to run the jail. Whether or not the county decides to privatize, it might still have problem: no officers ready to staff the jail when it's finished this fall. It can take months to hire and train corrections employees. Hall said he'll probably need to get 1,000 applications to fill 151 slots with qualified people. Officers will have to complete at least five weeks of training and clerical workers three to four. Hall said he has received a handful of applications from jailers now guarding Williamson County inmates at the private jail in Taylor. But he said it's too early to tell whether a significant number of those jailers would be willing and qualified to come to work in the new jail. To open the jail this fall, Hall would need permission from county commissioners to start hiring and training right now. He wants to hire at least 15 officers soon, a $180,000 expense that Doerfler thinks could be squeezed into this year's tight budget. But there's not enough money to hire the full staff, so it's unlikely Hall would be able to hire the rest until the new budget year begins Oct. 1. So, the jail probably won't be opened until January or February. "Actually being prepared to have prisoners in the new jail will be better than getting them there as soon as possible," Maspero said. Even when the jail opens, the county might still have staffing woes. The old jail has a linear design: officers walk down long halls and keep an eye on inmates in the cells on each side. The new jail will have "pods," or large cells, instead. One guard will stand inside each pod and supervise 48 inmates. It's a common design in contemporary jails, but it can sometimes be more dangerous and difficult to manage. Sixty percent of officers who are hired to work in such prisons quit, according to the National Institute of Corrections. Hall is worried he may lose people, too, despite the county's good salaries Jim Harrell, who ran the county jail before resigning last year, said he warned Maspero back then about many of the jail problems cropping up now. Harrell plans to run against Maspero for sheriff next year "We're going to have a brand new jail we can't use yet because the sheriff didn't do things in the appropriate time," Harrell said. "It's been poor scheduling, poor management, poor administration." Maspero disagrees. "That's totally inaccurate," he said. "We're going to staff the jail, it's going to work, and it's going to be in a timely manner." (Austin American-Statesman

dannoynted1 said...

Forget what happened to fired Port director Bernard List. He'll get his lawyer to threaten the Port for firing him without cause, and the Port will give him some hush money and he'll go away and in a few months no one will really give a rat's behind about what happened to Bernard List. That's the way things are done. You take the heat for a few days and then, after a couple of committee meetings, it fades away. But now that the Port has replaced List with Donna Eymard, a secretary I brought in from my days at IBC, get ready for more shit to hit the fan. Hey, I may not have known shit about the Port when I took it over but at least I had a damn college degree to fake it through. How the Port commissioners passed this camel through the media needle is pure Karl Rove genius. Amazing how no one is demanding a recall of these guys! The $21 million imaginary port is old news. Forget Randy DeLay's millions. Never mind Senator Eddie Sucio getting his six-figure cut. And what about U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz' "security" racket at the port. Where the hell is The Brownsville Herald in this bizarre mess? How come the Port Commissioners aren't getting GRILLED on why they fired List and how come a person who does not have a college degree is now running the multi-million dollar operation? If the Port were a private company, the corrupt commissioners and their incompetent staff would have been thrown overboard a long time ago. Puro milagro that I lasted so long and got out just in time.

http://www.elrocinante.com/comments.htm

Jaime Kenedeño said...

Sponsored links:




Political ad could alter deal

Alvarez targeted prison facility, some are saying
Jaime Powell, Caller-Times
Published: April 6, 2006


County Commissioners said Wednesday it would be a shame if a political ad paid for by the campaign of former Police Chief Pete Alvarez puts an end to Nueces County's deal with a Louisiana prison administrator. The ad targets a "bad boy Louisiana company" and goes on to say that Alvarez's opponent, Chief Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Rodriguez, played a part in contracting with a company that owns facilities where rapes and beatings occur.


The ad doesn't name LCS Correction Services Inc., which is building a $20 million federal inmate detention facility near Robstown that Nueces County expects to bring in about $800,000 for inmate transfers, plus $350,000 to $400,000 in taxes to county coffers.

Nonetheless, the company's owners fired off statements Tuesday and Wednesday through lawyer Tonya Webber questioning why they were being pulled into the political fray and refusing to comment to "rumors or allegations that the negative campaign" had jeopardized the company's plans for the facility.

"LCS Company officials will not respond to questions regarding whether the company will change its plans to build a corrections facility in Nueces County," Webber said. "They will not make that decision until after next Tuesday's election."

Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria said it would be unfortunate if the political ad kills the project.

"The citizens in the rural area will be concerned about who they vote for, because they would not want to lose that facility," she said. "I don't want it used politically on either end. I blame both people, not only the Jimmy side, but the Alvarez side."

Longoria and Commissioner Chuck Cazalas also said when they voted for the contract with LCS that they had not heard negative rumors about the company.

"I have not seen the ad, but I have heard about it in the hallways," Longoria said. "There were no issues with their (LCS') record because those are questions that did not surface. They are surfacing now because of politics. If it is true, I want to know the allegations, but I also want to know why they are using it if it's only politics."

Alvarez defended his ad Wednesday and dodged repeated questions about whether LCS is the firm his ad discusses. "That firm is not even named in that commercial," Alvarez said. "There are no names involved and if those people made the assumption that it was them, I don't have any control over that. The ad reflects on my opponent's choices and recommendations and that is all it is."

Past allegations of misconduct including prisoner abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment at LCS' South Louisiana Correctional Center near Bastile, La., and resulting media reports likely are the basis of the Alvarez ad.

Wednesday, LCS company officials said in a statement that there have been allegations of prisoners being beaten and raped at LCS corrections facilities in the past.

"LCS takes its reputation seriously and strictly enforces a policy of no-tolerance toward prisoner sexual contact or mistreatment," she said in Wednesday's statement. "Still, in its lengthy history in the private corrections industry, LCS has an excellent record."

Alvarez could not recall Wednesday if he knew anything about allegations against LCS.

"I would have to get with my political consultants to find out about their history," he said. "Yes, (I agreed with the ad) absolutely. It was aimed at my opponent, not anybody in particular. We need to defend ourselves at every opportunity."

Rodriguez said Wednesday that the Nueces County Commissioners Court made the call on the county's contract with LCS and he played no role.

"The ad Pete is running is dishonest, deceitful and misleading and unfortunately it may have a negative impact on the community," Rodriguez said. "We are talking about a $20 million investment, almost a $4 million annual payroll and 200 to 300 jobs in a rural area that needs it."


Copyright (c) 2006 Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Jaime Kenedeño said...

CAMPAIGN MUD BEING SLUNG HARD

Sheriff candidates blame each other for starting it all
Jaime Powell, Caller-Times
Published: April 5, 2006


The latest political mudfest in the race for Nueces County sheriff is originating in Pete Alvarez's political camp. Alvarez's new "Bad Jimmy" television ads, claim that his opponent Jimmy Rodriguez is responsible for the recent erroneous release of six jail inmates and that Rodriguez is responsible for a series of lawsuits filed against Nueces County over problems with the jail.


Another Alvarez ad has raised questions about whether a Louisiana prison administrator might ditch a plan to build a detention facility in the county.

The ad doesn't name the company in question, but says a Louisiana-based company the county has contracted with has an unsatisfactory record with the treatment of its inmates. The ad is aimed at the sheriff's department's administration for its advocacy of the company.

Last month LCS Correction Services Inc. broke ground on a federal detention facility between Robstown and Driscoll. The facility, under contract with Nueces County, is expected to bring in about $800,000 for inmate transfers, plus $350,000 to $400,000 in taxes.

A statement released by the company said the owners were upset by the ad.

"We admit the operations of prisons do not create a perfect world because we deal daily with imperfect people," Chief Executive Officer Michael LeBlanc said in the statement. "But there has never been a death or a suicide at any LCS Corrections facility in the Company's 16-year history."

Company officials refused to comment on whether the ad has now jeopardized the plans to build the corrections facility, saying it might unfairly impact the election.

Nueces County Precinct 4 Commissioner Chuck Cazalas said he didn't understand why Alvarez's ad targeted Rodriguez for something former Sheriff Larry Olivarez championed. He also said everything he knew about LCS indicated they were a quality firm.

"I think they are supposed to be a good company. Everything I heard about them was pretty good," Cazalas said. "I understand . . . that the company is supposedly thinking of pulling out."

Alvarez said his ads are a response to ads Rodriguez is running. The Rodriguez campaign says they did not fire the first negative campaign volley, but they are preparing to fire back, with new ads targeting Alvarez's record as police chief.

"Pete's radio spot hitting on jail releases was first," said Rodriguez's campaign consultant Jeff Butler. "We had a response saying, 'No it's not true.' He hit us first, so we responded and it went from there."

Alvarez denied that his team was first on the assault.

"I tried my best to keep a professional and clean campaign and they decided to throw the garbage out," he said. "And we have to defend ourselves. This is not something we initiated from the beginning. The public needs to understand that what is being said about me is simply not true."

The Rodriguez campaign contends that ads they are running against Alvarez are "infomercials" based on research and news stories outlining Alvarez's record that have run on television and in the newspaper in the past, Butler said.

Butler said the Rodriguez camp is not responsible for an anti-Alvarez flier mailed in February by political action committee Citizens for Nueces County that may have sparked some of the rancor in the campaign.

The flier said Alvarez was more than a million dollars over budget as police chief in 2001, that he tried to cover up an incident where his son was driving drunk, that he had been sued for misconduct and retaliation and that he had plagiarized a strategic plan.

Butler said Tuesday the campaign also did not put out a new flier that came out this week saying Alvarez treats women like second-class citizens. The flier cites a Caller-Times article about a grievance filed by female Corpus Christi police officers, who said Alvarez had "relegated them to second-class status."

Alvarez would not comment on specific allegations Tuesday but reiterated that neither flier is true.

The only member of the political action committee listed in campaign filings is Roland Gaona, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Though Alvarez and Rodriguez would not take responsibility for throwing the first mud, both campaigns said Tuesday they are prepared to duke it out to the last - the April 11 runoff.

Rodriguez said he hopes the nastiness won't get any worse.

Butler nodded in response to whether he thought the campaign would get any nastier and nodded again that the Rodriguez team is ready for battle.

"I knew the only way they could win was to go negative on us," Butler said. "Especially after the primary when Pete only got 40 percent. Everybody knew who Pete was. His 40 percent told me that 60 percent of the voters were voting against him."

Alvarez said future ads from his camp will come from watching what Rodriguez does and then responding.

"We have to strategize," Alvarez said. "This is a campaign, a political campaign. We have to defend ourselves, or the public will begin to believe the nonsense his campaign has come out with."

Mug: Pete Alvarez; Jimmy Rodriguez



Copyright (c) 2006 Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Jaime Kenedeño said...

Jaime Kenedeno - 03:38am May 3, 2007 Central (#22 of 22) Reply

Public Opinion is a powerful force but it is not static.

When and if Bryan Smith is proven guilty then he must leave (and that is a huge if). Right now he is innocent. This is not a big deal if the sex was consensual and certainly it is nothing that Skip needs to set jis hooks into, right Skip?

Nobody made a big fuss when Gazin's wife told him she had breast cancer and he told her he needed a divorce.

Nobody said nothing when Sausley had domestic problems.

Nobody said nothing when the Medical examiner became aware of a sitting District Judge and something about a sex crime.

And that one made the Judge even more of a force to be reckoned with.

I was warned, "You know you're messing with a district Judge"?

If Bryan didn't rape her and If he wants to continue as Chief; it is possible.

That is all for now.