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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Galindo, Homeland Security officials

to discuss use of RCDC for detainees

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Aug. 19, 2003 -- Discussions about the use of the Reeves County Detention Center III will once again be the topic of a meeting in Washington between county and federal officials, though Thursday's meeting will be with a different government agency than the one that county officials talked to in July.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo will be traveling to Washington tomorrow for a meeting with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security about using the 960-bed RCDC-III, which was completed in March and has so far filled only about 15 percent of its beds.

"I'm going to meet with several officials to discuss the possibility of Department of Homeland Security using the RCDC-III," said Galindo.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States and was directed by President Bush to secure borders of the country to return any foreign nationals that pose a threat to the security of the country. Several existing federal agencies have been incorporated into the DHS, including the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"We believe we can assist in providing detention services for those purposes," said Galindo. "Securing the borders and detaining foreign nationals that will be deported."

He said about five years ago, through a partnership with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Reeves County established a video teleconferencing contract with the Reeves County Detention Center. "The video teleconferencing is used to conduct administrative deportation hearings for inmates serving sentences up to five years," said Galindo.

Through the video teleconferencing courtroom, INS judges from Dallas and El Paso conduct court proceedings. Inmates appear in court in the Reeves County Detention Center courtroom without having to be transported elsewhere.

"This will offer Department of Homeland Security tremendous flexibility in centralizing detention of foreign nationals to be deported," said Galindo, who added that the judicial teleconferences can be conducted from any region of the country."

Galindo, along with Commissioner Herman Tarin, RCDC attorney Bill Weinacht and Washington D.C. lawyer Joe Summerall met with representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington last month, seeking an increase in the man-day rate paid by the BOP to Reeves County for housing 2,000 inmates in the RCDC I and II units. The county also was seeking additional inmates to fill the 960 available beds at the RCDC facility.

In the end, the county agreed to a man-day rate of $47.32 and a one-time payment by the BOP of $800,000 to the county. However, the agency declined to place any inmates at RCDC III at the present time. Reeves County needs the income from prisoners housed at the $40 million facility to make bond payments, the first of which is due on Sept. 1.

Last week, during the regular commissioners court meeting, Galindo said the DHS plan was one of four Reeves County was looking at in an attempt to fill the beds at the prison.

"DHS estimated about 80,000 would be deported in the very near future," Galindo said during the meeting. "I have strong beliefs that the Department of Homeland Security will have need of our beds in Reeves County."

The others involved additional BOP inmates and moving some from RCDC I into RCDC III; acquiring inmates from the U.S. Marshal's Service or prisoners from the State of Arizona.

The Marshal's Service already has about 100 inmates at RCDC III, and Galindo said that number would soon rise to 140, with the possibility that between 600 and 700 prisoners from Arizona and the Western District of Texas could be housed in the prison.

Galindo said the Marshal's Service was paying up to $90 per day for housing inmates in Arizona, "so if they use the RCDC they would cut their cost essentially in half," he said.

With the BOP, Galindo said they were seeking to get the agency's OK to move inmates from RCDC I into RCDC III. That would allow man-day rates to go towards the bond payment on the new building and permit the county to begin renovations on the 17-year-old RCDC I structure.

Galindo said the State of Arizona has looked at several other sites in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, but rated the RCDC III facility as it's best option.

"One of the very positive terms of the draft contract with the state of Arizona is they're willing to pay for 90 percent occupancy," Galindo said.

Amendment election mail ballots offered

PECOS, Tues., Aug. 19, 2003 -- Applications for ballots by mail for the Constitutional Amendment Election are being accepted until Sept. 5.

Deadline to accept an application will be 5 p.m., Sept. 5.

To request an application, call Dianne O. Florez, Reeves County Clerk, at 445-5467.

Early voting by personal appearance in the election will begin Thursday, Aug. 28 and end on Tuesday, Sept. 9.


PECOS, Tues., Aug. 19, 2003 -- High Monday 105. Low this morning 73. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy with isolated afternoon thunderstorms. Highs near 100. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy with isolated evening thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 60s. Thursday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Highs 95 to 100. Friday: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs 95 to 100.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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