A Special Touch at the El Valley Detention Center
Warden Francisco Venegas speaks about the culture promoted at the El Valle Detention Center in Raymondville, TX.
“The treatment of our detainees is based on the BIONIC philosophy, Believe It Or Not I Care philosophy. It goes a long way in improving the communications with those that we detain, but it’s a two-way understanding; BIONIC is preached not only to our staff, but it’s preached to the detainee population that we have. And that builds a level of trust. BIONIC is not a catch phrase—it’s a culture, and it’s a culture that we build here, and that we live every day. So, with our focus being on the safety & security of the detainee population and also enhancing their life skills, enhancing any kind of education that they may receive for their betterment, so that when they leave here, hopefully they’re leaving better than when they came in.”
Eloy Vargas is an academic instructor at the facility.
“I love helping out,” he says, “I love to help out the detainees and making them a little more productive in our community. I really enjoy making a difference in their lives.”
Community leaders are impressed with the culture at the El Valle facility. Mayor Gilbert Gonzales speaks to its cleanliness.
“What I like about this area, this place here is it’s always clean, and I mean spotless clean. I don’t mind coming over here. You could sit down on the floor and eat.”
Warden Venegas explains the other points of emphasis at the facility.
“The other focus is on the services that we provide: Ensuring proper medical care, proper mental care, proper dental care. And also giving them an ability to communicate with us to improve our own facility…There’s a separation in ICE’s mission versus MTC’s mission when it comes to immigration detention. ICE’s mission is the case management of all those detained in this facility. MTC does not become involved in that. MTC’s sole focus is on the care and custody of those that we detain, regardless of the reasons for them being here.”