Ill-gotten Gains, Gender Equality in Government, Seeing Green


Ill-gotten Gains, Gender Equality in Government, Seeing Green
Christopher Cardinale

Ill-gotten Gains

The times in Texas are good for the for-profit prison industry.

The GEO Group, which operates the immigrant detention facility in Karnes County, and Corrections Corp. of America, which runs a similar facility in Dilley, Texas, are rolling in cash.

That's because both groups have contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to jail immigrant women and children caught on the border.

The GEO Group made around $510 million, an increase from $427 million from last year's first quarter revenue. That's because of the 626-bed expansion of the Karnes residential center, Grassroots Leadership, an organization that seeks to end for-profit imprisonment, points out in a press release.

As for the Corrections Corp. of America, it experienced a 5-percent increase in first quarter revenue, bringing in $447.4 million. The company's Chief Executive Officer Damon Hininger credited the financial performance to "stronger than anticipated demand from our federal partners," particularly from ICE, according to a company press release.

Grassroots Leadership Immigration Programs Director Cristina Parker said that money is made off of the suffering of mothers and children who came to the U.S. seeking refuge.

"It's sickening to hear CCA and GEO brag about their profitable quarter to shareholders," Parker said.

Gender Equality in Government

San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales wants the Alamo City to adopt a rule requiring 50 percent of all board of commission members to be women.

"It doesn't have to be overcomplicated," Gonzales said during a May Governance Committee meeting. "I recognize that putting a quota may put some people off, but I don't think it's at all unreasonable."

Mayor Ivy Taylor agreed that city boards and commissions needed more women, but mentioned that finding people to sit in these positions was already tough.

"I know sometimes Sheryl [Sculley] and I find ourselves in meetings and we look around the room and it's just us two gals," Taylor said.

However, City staff is worried about imposing quotas, something other major Texas cities don't do.

While Gonzales' request didn't make it onto an upcoming City Council agenda, San Antonio will study the split between women and men on boards and commissions, and identify boards with acute imbalances. City staff was also directed to look into a targeted marketing campaign to advertise vacancies to organization's like the San Antonio Women's Chamber of Commerce.

Gonzales said multiple women's groups approached her about opportunities to get involved in municipal government.

"We're just trying to open the door for them, give them more options," she said.

The request will be revisited this summer during an already planned review of boards and commissions.

Seeing Green

As we reported last week, there's a whole lot of bullshit packed into the Texas Republican Party's 2016 platform.

But despite all that badness, there is a bright spot in the party's platform worth highlighting.

"We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients," the document states.

Well, that's good — albeit a small step for the party. But don't hold your breath that the Republicans are completely budging on marijuana reform.

"We oppose legalization of illicit and synthetic drugs. We also oppose any needle exchange programs. Faith based rehabilitation programs should be considered as a part of an overall rehabilitation program," the platform states.

But, hey, baby steps.

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