MTC Gains Ownership of Prison Facility in Willacy Co.

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RAYMONDVILLE – Two parties came to a decision regarding the future of the detention facility in Willacy County.

County commissioners met Tuesday night and decided to hand over ownership to Management and Training Corporation, the former operator of the facility. The county said the agreement will bring back roughly $1.5 million a year in taxes, including 200 jobs.

Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra said the now empty facility will soon have purpose again.

“All parties involved are driving towards the same objective and that is to open the facility as soon as possible,” he said.

During the meeting, county commissioners said MTC will be able to reopen the detention center quickly and bring back jobs and tax revenue.

“All tax entities are going to be able to collect taxes from the facility. Not only the county, so I think it’s a win-win,” he said.

The prison shut down in 2015 after prisoners rioted over living conditions. The closure cost the county millions in revenue and taxes. 400 people lost their jobs.

In 2016, Willacy County filed a lawsuit against MTC. They claimed the company was not properly managing the facility, leading to its closure.

“Part of the negotiations was for the lawsuit to be dropped,” Guerra said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS got a chance to speak to an MTC representative in regards to the agreement.

“It’s something we’ve been working on with the county since the facility closed. So, we’re excited about the county deciding to move forward with MTC as a partner,” MTC senior vice president Sergio Molina said.

The future of what the prison will become is still unclear. The prison was left with some needed repairs after the riot.

“Right now, our expectation is on the low. It may take four months to repair the hard structures,” Molina said.

Molina said the facility will only be able to house about 1,000 beds versus the 3,000 it housed before the riot.

We asked MTC what they would do differently to prevent an uprising from happening again.

“Obviously, this is a tough business we work in. But MTC is committed to having a place that operates humanly. We look forward to doing that with whoever the customer is, and we’ll keep an eye on things moving forward,” Molina said.

Guerra said they are eager for the facility to reopen so jobs and money can return to the county.

“Either increase our budget or be able to facilitate with the services that we provide to the public,” he said.

The county and MTC will finalize the agreement in the upcoming days. MTC said they are in talks with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement, as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons to determine what the facility will be used for.

Count on CHANNEL 5 NEWS to continue tracking this story. 

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