If you find our website useful, please consider sending us a contribution!!!  
PCI, 1114 Brandt Drive, Tallahassee FL 32308


Jan 14, 2021

Mexico Could Cancel Private Prison Contracts, Says President

MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - Mexico's president will seek better terms for the government in private prison contracts signed by his predecessors, he said on Wednesday, adding that he could cancel them if better deals cannot be reached. The private prison contracts were much too expensive and represented the worst of privatization, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at a regular government news conference. "We need to talk to the providers of these services so that an agreement is reached because we consider (the contracts) to be abusive," said Lopez Obrador. He said a civil complaint is being drawn up to cancel the contracts if new terms are not reached. Lopez Obrador has previously put pressure on energy and chemical companies over contracts he considers unfair. U.S. asset manager BlackRock Inc is among the investors that have been involved in prisons in Mexico. During the government of Lopez Obrador's predecessor, President Enrique Pena Nieto, payments for the Ramos Arizpe prison in the northern border state of Coahuila jumped by nearly 18% just before BlackRock purchased it, according to records reviewed by Reuters in 2017. BlackRock at the time declined to comment. The asset manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article. Ex-President Felipe Calderon, who preceded Pena Nieto, launched the partial privatization of Mexican prisons during his 2006-2012 term with eight facilities. Under Calderon's model, the contractors did not manage security or healthcare at the facilities, but instead secured the land, built the prisons and then provided services like food and laundry over 20-year contracts. Lopez Obrador, who ran and lost against both Calderon and Pena Nieto, routinely criticizes both men on a range of policy disagreements as well as for alleged graft during their terms. The leftist Lopez Obrador said a renegotiated deal should benefit the government's finances.

July 4, 2003
Three bounty hunters facing charges over their capture of fugitive rapist Andrew Luster can travel where they want as long as they show up at court here each Monday, the judge overseeing the case said.   "They can do what they want with their free time," Judge Jose de Jesus Pineda Gutierrez told The Associated Press on Wednesday after being told that Duane "Dog" Chapman, his son Leland and brother Timothy, had returned to Los Angeles.  Pineda last month ordered the three tried on charges of criminal association and deprivation of liberty for a predawn seizure of Luster, the Max Factor heir convicted in absentia in California of drugging and raping three women.  Prosecutors say the bounty hunters had no legal standing in Mexico and should have gone to police instead of snagging Luster themselves.  Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of four years, though attorneys said Mexico's complex sentencing laws mean the maximum possible sentence would fall well short of eight years.  The case was to be handed over to a judge in Guadalajara in the coming weeks.  Pineda released the bounty hunters on 15,000 pesos (US$1,430) bail each on the condition that they sign in at the court in Puerto Vallarta each Monday. Mexican immigration officials added a bail of 3,000 pesos each - less than US$300.  If the defendants don't appear, an arrest warrant could be issued and they could be imprisoned if they return to Mexico.  During a news conference in Beverly Hills, California, on Wednesday, Chapman said he would return to Mexico "soon."  "We still don't think we broke the law," he said.  Chapman's U.S. attorney, James E. Blancarte, said he did not expect that his client would have to serve more prison time in Mexico.
Authorities briefly detained and charged a television producer and actor who went along with the bounty hunters to videotape Luster's capture, but Pineda threw out the charges against them.  (AP)

June 27, 2003
Mexico - A judge ruled Thursday that there was enough evidence to order American bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman, his brother and his son to stand trial on criminal charges for capturing the heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune.Judge Jose de Jesus Pineda freed two Americans, producer Jeff Sells and actor Boris Krutonog, but found that the Chapmans should be charged with criminal association and deprivation of liberty - similar to kidnapping without requesting a ransom.
Chapman, a 50-year-old, Hawaii-based Bounty hunter, his brother Timothy and his son Leland were arrested   long with Shells and Krutonog on June 18, about two hours after the group captured convicted rapist Andrew Luster near a taco stand in this popular Pacific resort city.  Prosecutors maintain that Luster's dramatic capture violated Mexican sovereignty and claim that the Americans should have gone to police instead of trying to capture Luster themselves.  (Arizona Republic)

December 4, 200
Prison officials in northern Mexico say their inmates are manufacturing furniture bound for Texas -- despite U.S. laws that ban the importation of goods made with prison labor.  And they'd like to contract with more U.S. companies to produce all kinds of goods. One official said prison shops would even label their products to hide their origin.  Convicts already work for Mexican companies.  But prison labor is strongly criticized around the globe on the grounds that it undercuts unions, steals jobs from law-abiding workers and poses risks of human rights abuses. Many countries, including the United States, bar imports of products made by prisoners.  The prison director for Tamaulipas state, Manuel del Riego, said Clint Hough of Austin, Texas, was the first foreign businessman to accept the state's offer of its inmates' services. He said Hough had been buying furniture made by prisoners for more than a year.  Inmates at the Ciudad Victoria prison said Hough ordered chairs for a Texas restaurant chain as well as dining room furniture.  Hough, interviewed at the prison, would not confirm that he takes the furniture across the border.  "That I would really rather not discuss because I'm afraid U.S. Customs would ruin it," he said.  Wiping sweat from his brow with a towel, Hough later denied ordering furniture from the prison at all and said he merely teaches prisoners design and finishing techniques.  "You don't want to cause problems for people because the U.S. Customs can be narrow-minded in its views," said Hough, 49. "So it's really important that this not be reported."  On average, Mexican inmates are paid the minimum wage of 45 pesos a day ($4.50), half what free workers along the border make. Companies hiring prison labor also save on health insurance, retirement and other benefits.  Del Riego, however, said there was no need for companies to worry.  "Our products don't say they are made in prison.  They put a fancy tag on them and say they are made in a faraway country," he said.  Although Mexico permits prisons to produce for companies, U.S. law bars the importation of convict-made goods "no matter what the circumstances," said Paula Keicer of the U.S. Customs Service in Washington.  Keicer said officials were not aware that prison-made furniture was being imported across the Texas border.  (Tulsa

September 19, 2002
Officials in Mexico state, which surrounds Mexico City and absorbs much of the city's population and problems, recently announced they would contract with a private corrections company from the United States to operate a new state-owned facility and to build and operate four more over the next two years.   Despite that interest, recent scandals and a slump in the private prison industry - stock prices plummeted in 2000 and have not recovered significantly - suggest that private lockups, once viewed as a cure-all for U.S. states straining under high prisoner housing costs, carry troublesome baggage.   "The evidence is really clear that when you compare public and private prisons that operate at similar levels, the private sector does not measure up across the board," said Judy Greene, an independent corrections consultant and fellow with the Open Society Institute in New York dedicated to building democracy infrastructure in Third World and formerly communist countries  Evangelina Lara, Mexico state's prisons director, said the $87.1 million private prison deal will give the state 4,500 new prison beds, enough to Private-prison foes in the United States cite cases in which private companies have been sued and sanctioned on abuse and mismanagement charges.   Among cases involving Wackenhut and Cornell: Lara said the state is taking the scandals into consideration in designing its contracts.   None of Lara's assurances quiet the concerns of private-prison critics, who say the industry hasn't bothered to fix its problems but is still looking for new markets. And in some cases, the profits these companies want may come at a steep price.   Kevin Pranis directs the "Not With Our Money!" campaign, a New York-based activist network working to limit the reach of private-prison companies.   He said the industry makes money either by cutting costs or getting paid more in the contract.   Because Mexican prisons already spend much less on violate human rights, cost-cutting will not be an option for private operators to improve their bottom line, Pranis said. That leaves negotiating a fat contract.   "To the degree that corruption is a serious problem in Mexico," Pranis said, "that opens the door for these companies to use the government like a big cash machine."  (Az

August 27, 2002
Mexico state officials unveiled plans Tuesday for the country's first private prisons to relieve the government's overcrowded jails.  Several U.S. companies and one French firm have expressed interest in the $100 million project to build and operate four jails in the state, officials said at a meeting Tuesday with Foreign correspondents.  Bidding was expected to begin in three weeks.  Officials visited private prisons in France, Chile, and the U.S. states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona before drafting their plans.  U.S. security firms such as Cornell, Wackenhut Corp. and Correction Corporation o America have expressed interest in the project, as well as the French construction company Bouygues, Alcantara said.  (AP)

July 8, 2002
Prominent business leaders are trying to sell lawmakers on a plan to build new prisons in Mexico and privately run them, Notimex reported Sunday.   Rosa Maria Navarro, security coordinator for the National Industrial Chamber (Canacintra), said prison officials in Mexico City already had agreed to discuss future participation of private investment at several penitentiaries.  (The News)

June 28, 2002
Prison concessions have become the next big thing in Latin America's infrastructure business.  In Mexico the federal justice ministry has called for tenders for the construction and operation of four prisons worth a total of US $88.5 million.  Chile is getting into the act too.  The first phase of the country's private prison building program was officially launched this week.  The entire program represents some US $280 million in investments and will almost double the country's current prison capacity.  (Business News Americas)

June 27, 2002
Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest prison management company, today announced a new agreement with Mexico aimed at reducing the number of incarcerated undocumented immigrants in the United States.  "American taxpayer dollars pay for more than 50,000 undocumented immigrants, many of them repeat offenders, sitting in prison cells," said John D. Ferguson, President and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America.  The U.S.- Mexico Chamber of Commerce entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with CCA for the SOAR project.  (PR Newswire)

June 26, 2002
The construction and operation of four prisons worth a total of US $88.5 mn in the Mexican municipalities of Tenancingo, Tenango del Valle, Ixlahuaca and Zumpango will be put up for auction this week, local newspaper La Reforma reported.  The project aims to solve serious overcrowding in 23% of Mexico's prison.  The state ainticipates an 18-year concession period at a cost of US $22 a day per prisoner.  (Business News Americas)