Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Prison plantation may be first Texas unit to close in 100 years

Here's a notable development, from the Austin Statesman ("Seeds of change planted at prison farm," June 5):

It's been perhaps a century since the state shuttered its last lockup. But in a growing state where prisons get built, not closed, officialdom is now at least entertaining the idea of closing the Central Unit, thanks to a nudge from the City of Sugar Land, which wants to expand its regional airport.

The seeds of change are contained in a few phrases on Page 30 of a complicated 73-page bill that continues operations of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The so-called criminal justice sunset bill is awaiting Gov. Rick Perry's signature.

The bill calls for a feasibility study of closing the Sugar Land prison and moving its operations "to a location that more appropriately addresses the needs of the correctional system."

Central is one of five prisons within a 5-square-mile area, part of what was once two plantations totaling 7,800 acres that the state purchased beginning in the 1880s. That was about the time the prison system ended the highly controversial practice of letting private companies rent its convicts for indentured labor to replace slaves after the Civil War and began using them as field hands itself.

In time, officials reasoned, the prison system could be made to pay its own way with the profits from the plantation farms.

By 1921, Texas' prison plantations encompassed more than 81,000 acres across the eastern third of Texas, much of it within 30 miles of Sugar Land. Of the nearly 38,000 acres once tended by convicts in the Sugar Land area, records show, fewer than 1,300 acres remain in prison hands.

Central has just 326 acres left.

"That property is like the center of a doughnut — prime property now because it has been surrounded by development," said Hal Croft, acting deputy director of asset management for the General Land Office, which oversees the sale of state property.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully, this unit is the Walls. That unit was built in 1895 and I have been told the plumbing is substandard, the doors won't open or close and the floor is so unlevel one could easily fall and break a bone. It is about time Texas wakes up and gets some of the people out of prison who don't deserve to be there and move those who need to remain in prison, capitol murderers who can and will never change have a safer environment. Our system is so corrupt everyone in the USA realizes this and something needs to be done fast.

The BPP needs to follow the rules and discharge those who have families who will support them until they are able to be on their own, love them and get them the medical care that is not being provided by UTMB and TDCJ. The rules state if you are at the point of parole, you have proven by your behavior you will and can become a useful citizen again and have a automobile, job and support, you are to be paroled. This needs to be done and we would not have a prison crises in Texas.

Get some of the Senators and Representatives out of office this next election who don't really care about any of us and are only interested in getting re-elected. I printed all the bills and there are so many bills that are good bills that never made it to the floor due to the fact Mr. Craddick would not let them be heard. I hope he loses his Speaker job in the next term and let him enjoy sitting in the audience and hopefully the people from his district will wake up and not re-elect him and maybe we won't have to tolerate his dictatorship any longer.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time for Rissie to be moved to another job? She has not done a very good job in the position she holds now, and you may ask Senator Whitmire, he can fill you in.

Rissie ie the reason our prisons are so full because she does not make "her" employees follow the rules laid out by the BPP. Exactly what is her job, it is not to be able to say who goes home and who does not. She should be encouraging all the paroles she can in order to save Texas money. The prison system is totally out of control and something needs to done and I would suggest the trouble ususlly starts at the top and when you chop the top off, you soon get results all can relate to.