Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

Food & Drink: It’s been a year since I’ve taken up this gig of eating and drinking across San Antonio. Since then, no fewer than seven juice shops have opened in the area... By Jessica Elizarraras 8/20/2014
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Free Things to Do: Culture

Free Things to Do: Culture

Free Guide: Too hot to play outside but too early to hit up no-cover night at the club? Try any of these cultural excursions to boost your brain on the cheap.... 5/21/2014
15 Types of Commonly Encountered College Students

15 Types of Commonly Encountered College Students

College Issue 2014: Usually a freshman, this student tries to absorb everything the teacher says and immediately after class rushes to... By Alex Deleon 8/18/2014

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email


Newsmonger: Private gains, public pains

Photo: Chuck Kerr, License: N/A

Chuck Kerr

That same month James Bragman, a 50-year-old schizophrenic patient, while being escorted by three GEO staffers for a hospital visit, jumped to his death from the eighth floor of the hospital parking garage. A review of his records showed he had a history of such suicide attempts, and just months before the incident had been deemed a "high risk for suicide and intentional self-injury."

Later that Summer a woman died at the facility after "someone put her head through the wall in her room," the report states.

By email, GEO spokesman Paez declined to answer questions about the South Florida deaths, saying the company has reduced average stays, seclusion and use of restraints at the facility. He classified problems at Montgomery County as "paperwork lapses."

"All residential treatment facilities in the world (including psychiatric hospitals), public or private, face operational challenges that are inherent in the management of mental health populations," he wrote. "GEO has always conducted its operations with a commitment to providing high quality services and adhering to industry leading standards."

Still this year a Justice Department investigation into GEO's Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi concluded GEO officials turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct by staff with young inmates while also ignoring medical needs and suicidal behavior. In April a federal judge wrote the youth prison "has allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk." GEO didn't attempt to renew its Walnut Grove facility contract or two others at Mississippi jails.

Watchdog groups worry GEO will continue to work its political connections to score another contract here. Stephen Anfinson, who headed the Kerrville facility until 2011, began working for GEO shortly after leaving the facility to oversee GEO's psych hospitals. Government watchdog groups like Public Citizen have complained Anfinson's insider knowledge of the facility gives GEO unfair advantage.

With the state currently spending about $27 million to run the Kerrville hospital each year, a contract for GEO could be lucrative. The 202-bed facility is almost always at capacity thanks to the mentally ill defenders that clog our criminal justice system. Meanwhile, many doubt GEO could maintain Kerrville's standard of care while spending 10 percent less and make a profit without cutting corners. "We already have the lowest-cost mental health care system here in Texas," said Leon Evans, president and CEO of the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Texas spends less per capita on mental health care funding than any other state.

"People with mental illness aren't criminals, and [GEO's] history of working with criminals isn't even that good," Evans said. "If your main mission is to make a profit and house people, then your main mission is not to produce great outcomes and help people recover."

Mental health care experts in Texas like Evans have urged the state to boost front-end treatment solutions such as getting people in community-based treatment programs before a mental illness spins out of control and lands them in jail (and eventually the state hospital).

With Kerrville right at the nexus of incarceration and mental health care, advocates like Bob Libal with the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership worry GEO would operate with the same goal in psychiatric hospitals as in prisons — to keep beds full.

"There's no incentive for private prison corporations to support strategies that reduce incarcerations," he said. "When they're in the market for psychiatric hospitals, they'll want to make sure that system keeps beds full, too."

Recently in News
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus