No go: Plan for facility next to ‘tent city’ scrapped

RAYMONDVILLE — The Willacy County Correctional Center’s operator has scrapped a plan to build a facility next to the so-called tent-city prison.

On Tuesday, Raymondville city commissioners voted to return $12,000 to Management & Training Corporation, or MTC, City Manager Eleazar Garcia said yesterday.

Garcia said MTC had offered the earnest money as part of a purchase-option agreement to buy 50 acres on which to build a prison next to the tent-city, which the company had operated since it opened in 2006.

In February 2015, an inmate uprising destroyed much of the tent-city prison weeks before the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, terminated its contract to hold its inmates at the facility.

As a result, MTC shut down the prison.

Meanwhile, MTC and Willacy County officials continue to search to replace the BOP.

The prison’s closure slashed $2.7 million from the county’s $8.1 million general fund budget, plunging Willacy County into an economic crisis as it tried to offset a monthly revenue shortfall of $220,000.

In Raymondville, the closure of the 3,000-bed prison led city commissioners to slash about $600,000 to offset a plunge in water sales.

Officials are counting on the BOP to accept MTC’s new proposal to hold inmates at the prison.

MTC has offered to accept the BOP’s request for a company to operate a 1,200- to 2,000-bed “low-security” prison.

The BOP has proposed a company hold male “criminal aliens” with about 90 months or less remaining in their sentences in Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico or Oklahoma.

The BOP is expected to respond to proposals by MTC and other prison operators by April 2017.