Over the past few months commissioners have discussed privatizing the jail to reduce costs.I'd identified this issue when Grayson first proposed the idea of overbuilding and privatizing its jail, writing that "if the company can't find other entities willing to lease the beds at an inflated price, the county will be stuck with the full tab for space it doesn't need." Now on the eve of the county's vote on the project next month, that possibility appears less remote than when the economy was booming.
They hope building a larger facility will allow them to house more inmates from across the state and that the fee per inmate will be less than what their paying now. On the other hand, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says the number of inmates in has fallen, which would lead some to believe a new, larger jail in Grayson County may be sitting empty, yet county Judge Drue Bynum says he not worried.
"Their feasibly study came back and said in the next 20 years we would need a facility that would hold between 720 and 750 people, so we were making our decision based on the jail commission feasibility study that we just engaged."
The new jail is slated to be built near the corner of Frisco Road and Graystone on the Northeast side of Sherman.
The company now being considered is Southwest Corrections. They hope to run a new 750 bed jail here.
Judge Bynum now says it's no big deal if they can't lease the extra space, but as a practical matter, this new development sure seems to put a dent in the county's financing scheme. After all, he pitched the privatization idea saying it would mean taxpayers won't "foot the bill for the jail." They were operating under the assumption that profiteering off extra incarceration would pay for the county's baseline jail needs, but now, in the midst of a recession and with state inmate numbers falling, that strategy appears less viable.