Thursday, January 04, 2007

Texas may turn 2 juvie prisons into adult lockups

Quite a bit of news rolling in today on proposed Texas prison expansions - first House Correction Chairman Jerry Madden's news that Texas may expand its Intermediate Sanction Facilities for parolees by 2,000-2,250 beds, now Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire wants to turn two juvenile correctional facilities into two adult prisons with 1,000 beds each. Mike Ward at the Austin Statesman ("Lawmakers consider turning two youth prisons into ones for adults," Jan. 4) reports that officials:
are quietly exploring plans to convert two state youth prisons into correctional centers for adults, officials confirmed today.

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.

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,

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."


Anonymous said...

So are these extra beds actually empty right now, and if not, where do they propose to put the juveniles? And do they expect to keep all the same staff at these facilities, some of which will have training specifically tailored to juvenile security and not to gen pop security?

Oh, Happy 2007 Texas :)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The article implied that they can legally house adults in more crowded conditions, and that the juvie units weren't fully utilizing the capacity anyway. When they were adult units they supposedly held 1,000 inmates each.

The guard question is key. I don't know the anwer.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the Legislature go ahead and make the BPP release those who need to be released and make them do their job? Adding more beds is not the answer.

What will happen to the youth who are sentenced? Stick them in with the adults? Now that is a very intelligent idea!!

Senator Whitmire, stick to your policy, you are right and you know it. I have never known you to back down from anyone when you knew in your heart you were right.