Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Prison jobs outsourced to Mexico?

For years Texas has viewed its prison system as a jobs program, with rural areas actively competing for new prison units to be built in their region to counter job losses to the cities.

Now that the drive for more prison pork - and the draconian laws designed to fill them up -- have spurred an overincarceration crisis, state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls,
wants to outsource those jobs to Mexico, the Statesman's Mike Ward reports, with his SB 1119. Apparently hoping to free up space to house meth addicts, Estes would have Texas build three to five new facilities in Mexico and pay a private prison firm to run them. Like so many bad ideas, this one isn't original:
more than a decade ago ... another state senator named John Leedom proposed building prisons in foreign countries to house Texas prisoners as a way to save money for Texans. Cheaper to build, cheaper to operate, Leedom argued.

State and federal officials had another word for it at the time: Illegal.

That idea was quickly drop-kicked out of the Capitol. Legislative leaders today predicted Estes’ new great idea may face a similar fate.

State and Mexican laws, the U.S. Constitution, and the fact that Mexico wants nothing to do with the idea, will likely combine to doom the plan, Ward predicts.

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