Naked City

McPrisons on the Border?

According to Carlos Villareal of the Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, a group of like-minded reformers have formed a new group, South Texans Opposing Private Prisons, in an effort to block a U.S. Marshals Service-backed plan to build a 2,800-bed jail near Laredo. The Marshals have bemoaned the lack of space for inmates in the South Texas border region -- many of whom are illegal immigrants awaiting deportation or offenders awaiting transfer to another federal facility. Immigrants, Villareal said, "are the fastest growing population in the federal prison system" and, next to low-level drug offenders, represent the nation's "next big class of nonviolent" prisoners. The project is being sold to the public as a "great opportunity for economic development," said Villareal, a notion that STOPP members say is frightening.

The members of STOPP -- including the Texas Civil Rights Project and the ACLU's Jail and Prison Accountability Project -- are not only opposed to building more jails to house nonviolent first-time offenders, Villareal said, but are also opposed to this project because it will likely be run by a private vendor. So far, there are nine proposals to build the facility, eight of them from private vendors -- including incarceration-for-profit giants Wackenhut and Corrections Corporation of America. The private prison industry has been plagued by problems -- including riots at various facilities and numerous cases of sexual assaults of inmates by guards -- and yet is well insulated from public scrutiny (see "Beaten by Wackenhut," July 5, 2002).

Villareal said that two public hearings have been held near Laredo, and that federal officials are currently reviewing the various proposals. Still, he said, there is a dearth of specific information about the project, and of official documentation evidencing the need for the new facility. "It's moving ahead," he said, "and the only question seems to be when they're going to do it, not if it's going to happen." A spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service for Texas southern district could not be reached for comment.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Naked City

    The Texas Association of Business finally consents to cooperating with a grand jury investigation of its electoral practices.

    Naked City

    Why does the West Texas sheep town contain the brain of state government?

    Naked City

    The comedian goes to jail as his appeal goes to court.
  • Naked City

    Bush's military-intelligence expert -- at war with Satan!

    Naked City

    A handful of candidates contest to replace Molly Beth Malcolm as state Democratic Party chair.

    Naked City

    Republican honchos seek to influence route of public project in Bexar County.

    Naked City

    Street speech

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Private prisons
Naked City
Naked City
Breaking news from Austin, the region, and elsewhere

Mike Clark-Madison, Nov. 21, 2003

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

South Texans Opposing Private Prisons, Texas Civil Rights Project, U.S. Marshals Service, private prisons, Carlos Villareal, Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, ACLU Jail and Prison Accountability Project, Wackenhut, Corrections Corporation of America

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle