Prisonville: How Companies Profit From Immigration Jailings


Prisonville is what residents of Raymondville, seat of Willacy County, Tx., call their town, reports the Texas Observer. It is home to a privately run, 1,000-bed state prison; a 96-bed county jail with space for federal inmates; a private, 500-bed federal jail; and a new private, 2,000-bed detention center for undocumented immigrants. The four facilities are clustered on reclaimed grazing land, a bustling village of razor wire and guard towers across the highway from downtown. The 3,600 prisoners–one-third of Raymondville's population–represent the heart of the area's economy.

In addition to employing hundreds of locals as guards, the lockups are supposed to stimulate economic development. The Observer concludes that Prisonville seems to have benefited for-profit prison businessmen far more than the town. On August 3, President Bush visited to talk about the new detention beds and the region’s “new prosperity.” District Attorney Juan Guerra notes the timing of the detention center's opening and the president's visit. “It's a political project. This George Bush appearance [] cost us $60 million,” he says, alluding to a bond issue. The Observer details the finances of private prisons in a small Texas town.


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