Willacy Detention Center
|Location||Raymondville, Willacy County,
Texas, United States
|Security class||Immigration detention facility|
|Population||1,453 avg. daily (as of March 12, 2009)|
|Managed by||Management & Training Corporation|
The facility has been subject of numerous media reports and incidents related to illegal conduct of personnel.
Construction and upgrade
Willacy was built at a cost of $65 million by Management & Training Corporation for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in May 2006. It was upgraded in July 2007. In June 2008, 1,086 new beds were added. The first 2000 beds in the facility were constructed in 10 pod-like synthetic domes completed in 90 days.
In the summer of 2011, a new agreement was reached in which the facility was transferred from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the Bureau of Prisons. However, it is still run by the private contractor Management & Training Corporation. The plan, at a cost of $532 million, has converted the facility to one that houses only immigrant prisoners convicted of federal crimes. The first wave of new prisoners began arriving on October 10, 2011.
The new agreement provides that the federal government pay $49 per day for housing each prisoner, part of which will go to pay bonds used to finance the construction of the facility. Willacy County will also receive $2.50 per day for each prisoner to improve county finances. The balance then goes to Management & Training Corporation. For the county to receive a guaranteed payment of $1,259,250 per year, 1,380 prisoners or fewer must be housed, as that would be considered 50% capacity. However, if the total number of prisoners reaches 1,381 Willacy County receives $2,266,650 per year, as that would be considered 90% capacity.
Under this new agreement, the maximum capacity of the facility is defined as 3,117 beds filled. At capacity, the county would received an extra $577,612 per year, for a total maximum possible revenue to the county of $2,844,262 per year.
By 2012, the facility began to seem financially unsustainable. Press reports indicated that Willacy County might be responsible for the bonds sold by the Willacy County Local Government Corporation to finance expansion at the jail. A key to the dispute would be the future occupancy rate of the facility and the exact terms of the contract with federal government.
Present usage of facility
The facility is now used primarily as a prison for "repeat offenders caught crossing the border illegally".
The facility comprises ten large, 13,000 square foot, windowless domed structures constructed from a firm, rubbery, Kevlar fabric. These serve as housing units for the detainees. The tents are completely windowless with the lights kept on 24 hours a day. There are no partitions separating the showers, toilets, sinks and eating areas.
During 2007, the average population was 1,474. According to an standard Annual Detention Review by Creative Corrections on March 12, 2009, the facility had an average daily population of 1,217 males, and 236 females, with a total of 491,636 "man-days" during the previous 12 months.
Between March 12, 2008 and March 12, 2009, the facility had a total population intake of 27,284.
As of March, 2009, the capacity for adult males is 2,750 men, and 250 women.
The following table shows detainees leaving detention during a 12-month period between approximately March 2007 and March 2008:
|Nationalities (top 10)||Total||Deported/
American Bar Association delegation
A memorandum dated March 7, 2008, from the American Bar Association Delegation to Willacy, to James T. Hayes, Jr., Acting Director, Office of Detention and Removal, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, summarized and evaluated information gathered during an August 28m 2007 visit. Some of the findings are as follows:
- On the day of the delegation's visit, the detainee population was 1,216. This was lower than the normal amount, as the approaching Hurricane Dean may have prompted an evacuation of the facility.
- The detainees were from twenty-three countries, including Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Russia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, but none from the Middle East.
- Detainees making asylum claims get transferred the facilities at Port Isabel, Texas, or Pearsall, Texas.
- Normally, a detainee stay for twenty-one days.
- Willacy is funded for 109 ICE employees, but the facility has only 60, with many of these ICE officers often being away accompanying detainees or handling other off-site activities.
- A further 422 employees from Management & Training Corporation work at the facility.
- Most of the guards are male between 19 and 24 years of age, having a high school education, and earning $6.00 to $7.00 per hour. Each undergoes a criminal background check before being hired, and all receive two weeks of academy training, followed by a week of on-the-job training.
- Willacy has four immigration courts and a room for attorney visitation, normally with one or two judges per week to preside over immigration proceedings.
- Detainees are housed in "sprung structures" produced by Hale Mills, the exterior walls of which are constructed from a firm, rubbery, Kevlar fabric.
- There is a total ten housing units, each being divided into four pods, each approximately 13,000 square feet. The capacity of each pod is fifty detainees, with each building therefore holding a maximum of 200 individuals.
- There are no children kept at the facility.
The facility has been the subject of multiple reports of abuse. Between October, 2011 and October 2008, 170 allegations of sexual abuse have been reported at Willacy. The 2009 audit of the facility states that over 900 grievances were filed. Four have been resolved.
In November 2008 Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General of the United States was indicted along with Dick Cheney and other elected officials, by a Willacy County grand jury. They were accused of stopping an investigation into abuses at the detention center. A judge dismissed the indictments, and chastised Juan Angel Gonzales, the Willacy County district attorney who brought the case. Juan Angel Gonzales had himself been under indictment for over a year and a half before the judge dismissed the indictment.
- Physical abuse
Former Willacy guard Sigrid Adameit claims to have witnessed two supervisors and two officers beating a detainee, knocking out his teeth, and leaving him with a black eye and broken nose. She claims that she was shown the video of the incident and asked to "clean up" the statements of the guards in order to make them consistent with the evidence. The following morning, the detainee was put aboard the "first flight" out of the facility.[when?] 
- Sexual abuse
- Cocaine distribution
- Human trafficking
In November 2007, four Willacy employees were charged in relation to their use of company vehicles to smuggle illegal immigrants through checkpoints. They were allegedly caught smuggling 28 illegal immigrants through the U.S. Border Patrol's Sarita checkpoint, situated approximately 100 miles north of Brownsville. The immigrants were from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Two of the men charged were wearing their uniforms and driving a company van, apparently overloaded with the immigrants.
- Illegal immigration to the United States
- Immigration detention in the United States
- Immigration detention#United States
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement#Detention centers
- "Is There a Detention Center Near You?". BORDC. 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "ICE will relocate crowded detention center - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- at 9pm. "Lost in Detention | FRONTLINE". PBS. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Willacy County | Texas Prison Bid'ness". Texasprisonbidness.org. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Allen Essex (2011-10-10). "New prisoners begin arriving at 'tent city' | raymondville, tent, arriving". TheMonitor.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- ALLEN ESSEX The Brownsville Herald (2011-10-08). "New prisoners begin arriving at ‘tent city’ | city, new, prisoners". Brownsville Herald. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- illacy judge, DA clash over prison debt, by Allen Essex, Brownsville Herald, 8 July 2012
- Fessenden, Ford (2010-02-23). "Immigrant Detention Centers - Interactive Graphic". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Fernando Del Valle (Valley Morning Star) (2007-07-24). "Federal detention center in Willacy County set to expand | center, detention, county - News". TheMonitor.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Correctional Facilities > Locations > MTC". Mtctrains.com. 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Detainees Leaving ICE Detention from the Willacy County Detention Center". Trac.syr.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "TriValley Central". TriValley Central. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Illegal Immigrant Cases Raise Issue of Jail Space, by Carry Kahn, 26 February 2007
- "Texas Contract Security Officer Charged with Sexual Abuse". Justice.gov. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Texas immigrant detention center guard charged | texas, guard, immigrant". Brownsville Herald. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Former detention center guard pleads not guilty to abusing immigrant | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal". Lubbock Online. 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Former jailer charged with having sex with inmate in Willacy County : News". ValleyCentral.com. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "A south Texas contract security guard is charged with sexual abuse". Ice.gov. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Texas immigrant detention center guard charged". Allvoices.com. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "USAO-SDTX-101115-Gonzalez". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- EMMA PEREZ-TREVIÑO (2009-02-04). "Guard at Willacy detention center charged with cocaine possession | possession, center, raymondville - Local News". Valley Morning Star. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "MTC guard accused of smuggling drugs into Willacy detention center | Texas Prison Bid'ness". Texasprisonbidness.org. 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010 (2010-11-15). "Willacy County Regional Detention Center Guard Charged With Conspiracy To Distribute Cocaine – My Harlingen News". Myharlingennews.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Detention center workers charged in scheme to smuggle immigrants (Houston Chronicle)". Detention Watch Network. 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- High resolution image
- Visitor information
- Annual Detention Review, March 9, 2007
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: List of immigration detention facilities
- New York Times: List of immigration detention facilities
- Frontline (U.S. TV series) presentation Lost in Detention
- The Washington Post story Border Policy's Success Strains Resources, February 2, 2007