Notably, "County Judge Ed Emmett said this was the first he’d heard about this particular item in many months," but he promised a public process before any decision was made. "He said that right now the RFP that Corrections Corporation of America and any other bidders submitted is being reviewed by the purchasing department, which will when ready present its findings for the Court to consider. At that time, they may or may not take any action." Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Commissioner Radack portrayed the RFP as more of an information gathering process than a serious outsourcing proposal. He "characterized this as a very complex process and that the main thing he hoped to get out of it was some lessons about possible ways to be more efficient and save money. I suggested his description sounded somewhat like an audit to me, and he thought that was a reasonable analogy. He stressed that any review of corrections is multifaceted and can take a lot of time." Concluded Kuff, "I did not get the impression [Radack] was seeking anything transformational." Part of that may be because the situation at the jail has changed. Kuff noted:
I’m reminded as I review the history of all this that the origin was in late 2010 when Radack and Jerry Eversole were complaining about the cost of outsourcing inmates to Louisiana. That was when Radack made his request for a study of ways to reduce costs at the jail, which turned into a formal RFP when then-Budget Director Dick Raycraft came back and said it was the only way to answer the question. And so here we are today, in an environment where inmates are no longer being outsourced and jail costs overall are already lower, awaiting that answer.Finally, Sheriff Adrian Garcia sent Kuff a written statement which included this rebuff to the privatization idea: "I am also mindful of Judge Emmett’s comment that no private detention company has run a jail system as big as ours, and of then-Texas Commission on Jail Standards Executive Director Adan Munoz’s comment that privatization of the jail is not advisable. Their comments also mirror those of sheriffs in other parts of the country who have seen how privatization experiments at county jails have actually cost communities more than when they were run by the sheriff."
Despite the more sanguine portrayal to CCA investors by company executives, these comments don't sound like privatization of the Harris County Jail is in any way imminent nor even presently on the commissioners court's radar screen, though it's possible that could change when the purchasing department finishes evaluating responses to the RFP.
Good blogging by Kuff - thanks a lot, amigo, for following up!