The McAllen City Commission Needs to Hear from You
Update: After major public criticism of the project, the McAllen City Commission rejected the sole bid for the private-prison project by for-profit prison company GEO Group, but may explore ways of attaining more bids to advance the project. The more petition signatures we get, the more ready we'll be if McAllen decides to advance the project once more.
If they don't hear from citizens, the McAllen City Commission might approve a plan to construct a private prison within five miles from downtown. We need to tell them that the reputation of our city will be harmed by the construction of a private prison. Not only do private prison companies have an established track record of poor conditions for guards and detainees, but these projects can actually stunt economic growth for the city or region.
Sign the petition and we'll deliver your signature at an upcoming City Commission meeting.
We the undersigned community members and community organizations oppose the construction of a private prison in McAllen, Texas because this project would:
- Undermine our city’s image as a forward-thinking and welcoming community;
- Cost taxpayers by opening up the city’s liability for lawsuits, impeding better opportunities for economic development, and failing to provide good, high-wage jobs; and
- Force our city to contract with private prison companies that have been dogged by accusations of abuse and neglect, unsafe conditions for both staff and prisoners, and leaving host communities to clean up the messes they have created.
About this petition
McAllen is an economic hub for shoppers and diners from around the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. Our city treasures public art, wild life, our heritage and history, and our families. But, the reputation of our city will be harmed by the construction of a private prison. Not only do private prison companies have an established track record of poor conditions for guards and detainees, but these projects can actually stunt economic growth for the city or region according to a recent study.
Our city should not spend taxpayer’s dollars on projects that have been proven to undermine rather than encourage economic development. McAllen should not make the same mistake as Littlefield, Texas and Montgomery County of contracting with private prison companies only to be left covering the losses when the facilities failed to be the cash cows they were initially sold as.
Finally, the track record of companies like GEO and CCA are truly awful. GEO Group has been implicated in the serious mistreatment of young people at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, which Federal Judge Carlton Reeves called a “cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” At the GEO Group-run South Florida State Hospital, three mental health patients died gruesome deaths in the fall of 2012 that a state-ordered review attributed to staff neglect and cutting corners.
The CCA-operated Idaho Correctional Center was so much more violent than Idaho’s other prisons that it earned the nickname “Gladiator School.” In 2009, prisoners at GEO-operated Reeves County Detention Center rioted over issues at the facility that reportedly included poor quality of health care and multiple prisoner deaths. In 2007, state officials shut down the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center due to the unsafe and unsanitary conditions under GEO Group operation.
The City of McAllen should immediately stop plans to build a US Marshal Service detention facility. Our city's economy and reputation will be harmed by such a project. We hope that you hear our voice and consider carefully the concerns we are raising.