A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from May 27, 2008
Prisonville (Raymondville nickname)

The city of Raymondville is a small city in Willacy County in South Texas. Since at least 2006 (popularized by an October 2006 Texas Observer article), an unofficial nickname for Raymondville has been “Prisonville.”  Raymondville is home to the largest immigrant detention camp in the United States, and the Texas Observer described “Prisonville” as “host to what’s probably the largest concentration of privatized jail facilities in the world.”
Wikipedia: Raymondville, Texas
Raymondville is a city in Willacy County, Texas, United States. The population was 9,733 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Willacy County.
Raymondville was formed in 1904 by Edward Burleson Raymond, a foreman of the El Sauz Ranch portion of the famous King Ranch and owner of the Las Majadas Ranch.
It is the site of a large federal holding center for illegal immigrants.
Raymondville Chamber of Commerce
The city with a smile!
Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX)
Hard time bringing good times: Prisons provide economic bonanza for Raymondville.
Byline: Fernando Del Valle
Publication Date: 23-JUL-06
Jul. 23—RAYMONDVILLE—For Irma Hulen, business is booming in this small farm town that some are calling Prisonville. After a flooring company laid her off, she won a six-figure contract in 2003 to provide floor coverings at a 525-bed county-owned prison here. After winning a series of contracts with private prison firms, she won a contract last year to cover the floors of a 238,000-square-foot detention center that holds illegal immigrants in Pearsall, south of San Antonio.
The Texas Observer
Prison companies profit as Raymondville’s public debt grows

Forrest Wilder | October 20, 2006 | Features  
(An illustration shows a sign that reads “Welcome to Prisonville”—ed.)
“We’re at the point where we’ll grab anything,” says Salinas, an amiable former farmworker with a full head of white hair. “If it’s Prisonville, fine.” Prisonville is what the residents of Raymondville, seat of Willacy County, have taken to calling their community. Their town is home to a privately run, 1,000-bed state prison; a county-run, 96-bed jail with space for federal inmates; a private, 500-bed federal jail; and a recently opened private, 2,000-bed detention center for undocumented immigrants that is a crown jewel in the Bush administration’s border-enforcement policy. The four facilities are clustered on reclaimed grazing land, a bustling village of razor wire and guard towers across the highway from downtown Raymondville. The 3,600 prisoners—one-third of Raymondville’s population—who reside in this penal colony represent the heart of the area’s economy. Aside from employing hundreds of locals to guard the prisoners, the jails are supposed to stimulate economic development and provide revenue for the county. But Prisonville seems to have benefited a small group of private, for-profit prison businessmen far more than the town on whose humble aspirations they preyed.
The Texas Observer
Prisonville Grows
August 27th, 2007 at 1:43 pm
When in debt, borrow more. That’s the Willacy way! Not content with just $129 million in prison-related debt, the Willacy County Commissioners Court voted last week to finance its fifth or sixth (who’s really counting?) project. This time it’s a $50.1 million, 1000-bed addition to the privately-run 2000-bed “Tent City” for immigrants. With the new addition, the extremely poor county earns several bragging rights: more jail beds - 4,600 in all - than the country of Finland; the largest immigrant detention camp in the country; and more debt than any rural county in Texas.
(For details on the private prison craze in Raymondville see my October, 2006 story in the Observer.)
Willacy is an economic backwater in South Texas with a near-comically dysfunctional local government. For over a decade area leaders have been trying to dig their way out of the doldrums by building prisons, jails, and detention centers and turning them over to private outfits for management. Raymondville, the county seat that locals are calling “Prisonville,” is host to what’s probably the largest concentration of privatized jail facilities in the world. It’s a great deal for the companies. They assume virtually no risk and get to collect healthy profits.
Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram (May 25, 2008)
Border patrol employs zero-tolerance approach in Del Rio
Star-Telegram staff writer
Even the largest jail for illegal immigrants, the Willacy County Jail, is too small to accommodate federal demands. Located in Raymondville—nicknamed “Prisonville”—it is expanding capacity from 2,000 to 3,000 beds this year, officials say.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Tuesday, May 27, 2008 • Permalink

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