2011-06-08 / Front Page

MTC gets $532 million contract to house inmates for Bureau of Prisons

BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has awarded a contract to the Management & Training Corp. to house up to 3,000 low security criminal aliens at the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville, it was announced Tuesday.

Under a 10- year, $ 500 million plus contract, MTC will provide the services at the detention center where it’s running a 3,174-bed facility for the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

But according to an environmental assessment draft prepared by FBO, the inmate population at that facility has fluctuated significantly over the last three years from a low of 812 inmates to a high of 1,858.

MTC officials expressed satisfaction for getting the FBO contract.

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons through this contract,” Odie Washington, the company senior corrections vice president, said in a press release. “ This will be Management & Training Corporation’s third Bureau of Prisons contract. “ We look forward to providing a safe and secure environment for our employees and inmates at the facility.”

Willacy County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. said the new contract MTC has will provide a constant stream of revenues for the county.

“This is good news for us because it’s going to put us in a better position,” he said. “The county owns the land where the detention center is located and we will continue getting paid for every inmate housed in there.”

Although the county has been getting $2.25 a day for every inmate housed by ICE, the numbers have been plummeting year after year.

Gonzales said ICE paid the county about $970,000 over the last 12 months.

But once FBP takes over, he said the county will get paid a minimum of $2,035,985 for 2,488 beds, adding that is at 90 percent capacity.

And whenever the detention center reaches full capacity, he said the county will get an additional $567,000.

But the most important thing is that the county is guarantee to get the $2 million plus every year even if the detention center were to be empty.

“We can now budget this money to use for works of infrastructure like roads and bridges,” he said. “’With ICE we couldn’t do that because the money depended on the number of inmates.”

City Manager Eleazar “Yogi” Garcia said the city could also benefit from the new contract because ICE is going to build another detention center.

“The ICE facility will be converted into a 3,000 beds facility for BOP,” he said said. “ ICE will have to find a another place.”

An ideal location is the 54.2 acres the city agreed to grant an option to buy in the industrial park on the southeast corner to Municipal Markets Corp. of Dallas.

“Everything is up in the air right now,” Garcia said, “but if they were to build a facility in that location, the city will provide the funding mechanism for that project.”

Tuesday’s announcement about the new MTC contract came within weeks after the Utah-based company started passing pink slips to more than 110 employees.

Some 45 workers are from Willacy County, while the rest are from the other three counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley.

Gonzales said those laid off workers could be called back later this year.

“Even though some of these people were laid off,” the county judge said, “they could be rehired within the next six months.

“MTC now has the contract and a September 1 date is being looked at as the starting date.”

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