Two West Texas Prisons Under Fire After Alleged Inmate Mistreatment

Two West Texas Prisons Under Fire After Alleged Inmate Mistreatment
By Alicia Neaves

NewsWest 9

Two West Texas prisons are under fire. That's after an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. In all, 13 prisons nationwide were targeted in their probe.

The investigation was sparked after claims inmates were allegedly abused and mistreated. Just Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed against one of those prisons.

"They're being held for low security, low-level crimes," immigration attorney, Daniel Caudillo, said.

The lawsuit filed by Attorney William McBride targets the Willacy County Private Detention Center in South Texas and the Management and Training Corporation, the company who owns multiple private prisons.

"Private prisons for profit is a very dangerous situation that lends itself to corruption because the longer you detain a person, the more people they detain, the more profitable these facilities become," McBride said.

Texas has five for-profit prisons who house undocumented immigrants. Two of which are in Big Spring and Reeves County.

The American Civil Liberties Union published a years-long investigation digging deeper into the reports of abuse and maltreatment of the detainees.

"They make $4 to $6 million a day by holding onto these illegals - well, they think they're illegal. They don't know. They might have some type of right to legal status in this country but they're racially profiling these individuals and they're detaining them for a private prison profit," McBride said.

"There isn't sufficient food. There isn't sufficient housing. You're sleeping literally two feet away from the next prisoner. There is no privacy. The bathroom facilities are never clean, they're never functioning. That's been verified through any company or organization such as the ACLU," Caudillo said.

Lawyers say these prisoners have a minimum standard of rights. If the prison is in violation of those standards, it's difficult to prove at times, as some facilities are protected from Freedom of Information Act Requests, limiting oversight.

McBride says he plans to expand his efforts to all five facilities.

"I want to shut them down and I want to make sure that these people who are being treated like slaves are freed and they're going to be with their families," McBride said.

The American Civil Liberties Union was unavailable for comment.

In a statement the Vice President of GEO Group, Inc. who owns the facilities in Reeves County and Big Spring said, "Our company has had a long-standing public-private partnership with the Federal government that dates back to the mid-1980s. GEO's facilities provide high quality services in safe, secure, and humane residential environments, and our company strongly refutes allegations to the contrary. Our facilities adhere to strict contractual requirements and standards set by the Federal government, and federal agencies employ several full-time, on-site contract monitors who have a physical presence at each of GEO's facilities.

Additionally, GEO's facilities provide office space for federal personnel, immigration attorneys, immigration court judges, non-governmental organizations, and other constituent groups who have access to each facility. All of GEO's facilities are audited and inspected by respective federal agencies on a routine and unannounced basis. GEO's facilities are also independently accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA), which is widely recognized as the foremost independent detention accreditation agency in the United States. During the most recent ACA accreditation audits, the Big Spring Correctional Center and the Reeves County Detention Center received an average score in excess of 99%."