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Sale of Texas Private Prison Falls Through

The City of Littlefield, Texas sold the Bill Clayton Detention Center (BCDC) at an auction, but the deal fell through. The BCDC is a 363-bed prison private prison developers talked city officials into building in this 6,500 person community. Mesmerized by the promise of prisoners from other jurisdictions whose incarceration would create hundreds of jobs, Littlefield issued $11 million in bonds to finance prison construction.

GEO Group ran the prison for about eight years, locking up prisoners from Idaho and Wyoming. But poor prison conditions sparked riots and a suicide while guards helped prisoners escape. That led Idaho to withdraw its prisoners in 2009 and GEO to cancel its contract soon thereafter. Littlefield was stuck $9 million in remaining debt costing $65,000 a month to service and a prison that it had to pay to maintain.

Littlefield City Manager Danny Davis had hoped to cut the city's losses by getting bid of at least $5 million at a real estate auction in July, 2011. So a telephone call with a bid of $6 million seemed to solve all of Littlefield's problems. Within a month the buyer backed out and the deal fell through. Now Littlefield is trying to work out a deal with some "interested parties," according to listing agent Jeff Conn.


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