Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sheriff insists Johnson County Jail must add capacity to house outside inmates

The Sheriff in Johnson County is insisting that the commissioners court must pay to expand the county jail, according to this report out of Cleburne, though "County Judge Roger Harmon appeared to offer every possible scenario Monday that might prevent a big-ticket expense – building, or at least major renovation and expansion, of a county jail."

Sheriff Bob Alford, though, insisted building additional capacity is the only option. Commissioner Don Beeson opined, "Its not popular, but we have a responsibility. We just simply have outgrown this facility."

But have they? According to the latest report by the Commission on Jail Standards (1/1/14),  the Johnson County Jail has a capacity of 870 but only 454 local prisoners, meaning local demand presently only takes up 52% of available jail beds. When one takes into account more than 250 contract prisoners, though, the jail is 81% full. So the push to expand the jail isn't due to rising local needs but stems from past decisions by the commissioners court to speculatively build excess capacity to house inmates from elsewhere. 

The ill-fated decision to overbuild the jail has haunted the county for years. In 2010, their previous contractor dumped the county because they couldn't find inmates to fill the empty beds. The new contractor, LaSalle Corrections out of Lousiana, has been more successful at filling the beds and now wants the county to build them extra capacity. Judge Harmon, though:
had pointed words for LaSalle Southwest Corrections, the company that operates the jail.

"It is in our contract with LaSalle that they will take care of maintenance issues," Harmon said. "Why don't they take care of their contractual obligation? They're not."

The contract calls for repairs under $5,000 to be performed by LaSalle. There are at least two of those issues that arise monthly, Sheriff Bob Alford said. But no amount of $5,000 maintenance repairs can solve all the jail's issues, Beeson said.

"If it were a $5,000 issue, we wouldn't need a $20 million jail," he said.

The contract with LaSalle Southwest Corrections for operation of the jail saves the county about $1 million annually, Alford has said.

"The taxpayers of this county put us in office to represent the taxpayers," Harmon said. "They did not put us in office to represent a corporation."
It's disingenuous for Alford to claim the LaSalle contract "saves" the county money. Really, LaSalle's contract only saved the county from the consequences of their own poor decision making. Now he wants commissioners to double down on the bad decision that got them in trouble in the first place. True, the county was losing money hand over fist before LaSalle took over because they'd overbuilt the jail and couldn't find contract inmates to pay the bills. But they don't owe the private prison firm anything and certainly aren't obligated to raise taxes to build additional jail capacity. If the county now needs extra space for their own prisoners, they've got plenty. The only reason to build more is for LaSalle's benefit, not their own.


Anonymous said...

"The only reason to build more is for LaSalle's benefit, not their own".

Yea, that and the kickback that the sheriff is sure to receive if the new jail is built. But I'm sure there's plenty in the pot for the county commissioners too. Building contractors are ready with the bribes...

Anonymous said...

This puzzle is easy to piece together.

The same dot that connected the previous jail vendor, CEC, with Johnson County and the sheriff, is now a dot with LaSalle.

FleaStiff said...

How soon before the sheriff retires and becomes a consultant for LaSalle?

Paul-UK said...

Many years ago, I used to work in an outdoor equipment shop. People would come in to buy backpacks, the advice we would give them about the size of the backpack they should buy was "Buy the smallest size possible, because you will want to fill it if you have any space in it after you have put what you need to put into it, then you are only adding extra weight" I think the same applies to jails or prisons

john said...

CLEARLY it's more profitable to put folks in jail than to have honest redress, so a cop hides in every bush? If the folks in the legal/prison business and the government controlling it were serving, instead of stacking up their career plans, it would be a different land. Everybody at the top is running a scam, against We The Poor People citizen constituents.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 454 local inmates.

It would serve as a cherry on top of a steaming pile of bullshit if we knew - How many are being held captive (in order to keep bodies in bunks) vs being timely & properly freed on PR and regular bonds in which they qualify?

Maybe a lawyer or two or three worth their salt would / should consider going there today and find out the answer due to the possibility of hundreds of political prisoners needing to be freed.

The only difference between this hayseed county corruption and say Harris County is the citizenry speaky a lil more so-called English.

Patrick Barkman said...

There are no PR bonds granted in Johnson County. Ever. Nor is there any pre-trial diversion. Nor are bonds ever substantially reduced.

capt coors said...

After you post bond and meet the outrageous Conditions of the bond, they will find something new to charge you with. In this county you are guilty until proven wealthy.

Anonymous said...

its the judges, afterall only judges can decide who stays in jail and for how long they stay. the sheriff has nothing to do with the jail population, other than follw the orders of the court. its the judges...

Anonymous said...

I know i was off topic but i see two above rants.(partially relevent...
One patrick barkman yadayada.
One anonamous yadayada; spouting a cherry-pile of steaming bullshit

ANYWAY....Go ahead and build all of the jails you can so everyone can be PLEASED.

Harsh but none ever return after being mentally do they.

Anonymous said...

The county is only trying to line their pockets even more. It's all about the money!
They need to provide better care of the inmates they have now. Better food and medical. We don't need a bigger jail; we need a better one!

Anonymous said...

The food should be at least etible. Oh poor me; i didnt deserve anything more than dog food..

BTW all inmates should be treated equal and have no commisary rights.

You tell me why i lost weight and the a** h*** got chili & chips while i looked on.

Most of the tattoed as* h***s get money on their accounts from their dope dealer buds on the outside.