are quietly exploring plans to convert two state youth prisons into correctional centers for adults, officials confirmed today.That's a new twist, and perhaps also an admission by Chairman Whitmire that policy changes alone may not be enough to ward off some prison expansion in the 80th Legislature. I disagree - I think state and local agencies have the tools they need right now to avoid new prison building in 2007 - but I can understand the pessimism. Reported Ward,
Such a move could provide an additional 2,000 prison beds without building expensive adult prisons, they said, as it would be much cheaper to build two new youth prisons.
Whitmire said initial consideration is being given to converting both lockups for possible use as a substance-abuse treatment center, which would include low-risk, nonviolent offenders.
Whitmire said he has asked officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to tour both sites with him soon to determine the cost of converting them to adult lockups.
"If we could add 2,000 beds by doing this we would be that much farther ahead," he said. "It seems like a good idea. It's definitely worth exploring, and that's what we're doing."