Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coryell County seeks overbuilt jail to attract private vendor

In Coryell County (Gatesville), commissioners want to build a jail twice the size the Commission on Jail Standards says they need because they want to contract with a private prison contractor to lease out extra beds. Reports the Killeen Daily Herald (Dec. 29):
County Judge John Firth said recommendations made by TCJS staff are a 152-bed facility with the ability to expand to 500 beds over the next 20 years.

"That's way below what the commissioners and sheriff would be needing," Firth said.

As a result, the court will send a letter to TCJS Executive Director Adan Munoz Jr. to counter the staff's recommendations.

"We disagree with the staff recommendation and will include a feasibility study that was done two years ago that said 250 beds with an expansion capability of up to 500 beds over the next 20-year period," Firth said.

"There's a break in there where it doesn't become cost-effective to spend the amount of money on a 197-bed facility based on in 20 years what we would spend sending them out versus what we will spend, and that 197 is not going to cover us for 20 years," Commissioner Elizabeth Taylor said.

Commissioner Jack Wall said if the county decides on a private jail facility, "the secret number is 300.

That's the number of beds we have to have."

Firth will send a letter to Munoz with the county's recommendation of a minimum 250-bed facility that can expand up to 500 beds.
Counties overbuilding their jails to provide extra space for private vendors have sometimes seen that decision come back to bite them. Cameron County now ships pretrial detainees out of county because so many beds are taken up with contract prisoners, while Gregg County at one point had to stop arresting people for all but serious felonies for the same reason. In Lubbock, commissioners overbuilt their jail hoping to fill it with contract prisoners and now taxpayers must eat the extra costs. Exacerbating the situation, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has stopped leasing beds from county jails because of its own successful efforts to keep the state prison population under control. And with immigration arrests down as a result of the flagging economy, demand for federal detention beds seems likely to decline in the near future.

As of December 1, Coryell County housed 75 prisoners in a facility designed for 92 - that's a far cry from the 250-300 beds commissioners want to build. The county would do well to scale back their jail building ambitions to focus exclusively on their own citizens' needs, not the needs of some prospective private vendor.


Anonymous said...

According to a December 23rd article in the Houston Chronicle, the Texas population has grown by 3.9 million since 2000 and by 478,000 in the last year alone. Texas is, by far, the fasted growing state in the country and is now second to California in terms of total population. Doesn't it make good sense that counties that can expand their jails do so before they become overcrowded and have to expand?

Seems to me that problems with being forced to house out of county inmates on an unprofitable basis could be easily addressed and rectified by changing the wording of the contract to address this contingency.

Have you ever supported any jail or prison expansion, Grits? To me, it's foolish and shortsighted to depend entirely upon non-confinement rehabilitation programs to keep inmate populations in check when this state is experiencing such a huge and steady population growth. Regardless of whether one supports treatment or confinement as a means to control crime, sooner or later more jail/prison bed space will be needed. Good for Coryell County for having the forsight to address this problem before there's a crisis.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

11:45 asks, "Have you ever supported any jail or prison expansion, Grits?"

In 2007 I supported quite a few new secure facilities, just not straight up prison beds.

Besides, it's one thing to support building jail space for what your county needs. It's another thing entirely to suggest building twice what you need so a private company can profiteer off renting out the extra, which is what's being proposed here. That's a) risky for taxpayers (see the examples in the post) and b) not the purpose of county government. Let the private prisons build their own facilities if that's the business they want to be in.

Also, Texas' incarceration rates have grown MUCH faster over the last few decades than the population - even more so for jails. It's just false and misleading to point to population growth and claim that's an excuse for more jail building.

TCJS has suggested Coryell build a jail that holds twice the population they have now. Why isn't that enough?

sunray's wench said...

They aren't selling beds, they are selling people. Inmates are more than just statistics on a spreadsheet. They are not imprisoned in order to be exploited, they are there to be contained (rehab and re-education would be nice, but doesn't always happen, especially in jails).

Anonymous said...

Prison Business is Big Business in Texas! Hell it keeps Bubba off food stamps by either giving him a job or locking him up. Now that’s a win – win situation! So what if a few lives are destroyed and the tax payers get to shell-out millions, it is good business. We have to make the most out of the opportunity the War on Drugs gives us to make money along with the people behind the drug business. Times are tough and money and jobs are scarce. It is all about money and nothing else. Don’t let pesky things like morals or ethics cloud your judgment; people need a place to live or a job. The prison industry provides both and it can be sold to the gullible public as keeping them safe. Hell, even Dick Chaney is heavily invested in the private prison business. If Dick is into it then I want some of the action too. If the deal goes bad then find a way to stick it to the taxpayers and walk away after you have filled your own pockets.

Grits you need to dial back on the morals and ethics boy! As smart as you are you could make so big money if you played your cards right. You might have to use a little of your blood money to buy alcohol and loose women to salve your over active conscience but what’s wrong with a little whiskey and whores?

Now that fellow Mr. Ahma Daeus might be right from a moral and ethical point of view but he has obviously over looked the need to make money. You have to get your priorities lined up Mr. Ahma Daeus. Also don’t forget our politicians need to garner votes by getting tough on crime come election time! They have stock and supporters in the prison business they need to take care of.

The prison business is a bigger version of giving drivers all the red light camera tickets you can. It is not about anything but making money. Why do you think the commissioner’s courts buy expensive laser and radar units? They do it to raise money under the guise of making their community safer. It is just the way the system works for the politicians and their supporters to make money. Hey it’s not a big problem unless you or someone in your family gets caught up in the system.

Well I need to call my broker and buy some more private prison stock. You all have a very happy and money making new year.

TDCJ EX said...

Sunray, you are right . It is selling human beings has as just another commodity. Prisons, jails and prisoners are a huge part of Coryell County's economy. TDCJ is the counties largest employer , with its 6 TDCJ units and Coryell County Jail in Gatesville . Without TDCJ , Gatesville would be just another small town that provides basic services for what would be large ranches.

Why should taxpayers which would include every taxpayer in the US pay for the construction of a new jail that is built specifically for a private prison corporation ? Corporations exist to make a profit for its owners and/or shareholders . Buying and selling humans is morally repulsive.

Sunray you are also right that rehabilitation, and education rarely goes on in jails or prisons. If any education or rehabilitation occurs is because that particular prisoner has outside support to obtain an education and pay for any rehabilitation programs that might or might not be available to them.

Grits it is right . Building things for private corporations and companies is always a risky for the taxpayer. If high risk will return ventures businesses want that taxpayer to accept risk for were so profitable to to build. They would be financing it themselves and reaping the reward of taking that risk .

I'll add is not the business of any government to be building any facilities for private corporations and companies. Then all idea of for-profit private prisons and selling prisoners to the corporations is not something government should be doing anyways.

Maybe the problem is overcriminalization . If less human behaviors were felonies, that wouldn't be a need for lots of prisons and jails.

Then there are the other state and federal government handouts that come with having lots of prisoners in your community.

To simplify what Anon 4:31 said.

First you “contribute” to a political campaign. Next , you convince the citizens that if the government using their hard earned taxpayer, builds them a shiny new prison . It will reduce or eliminate taxes and keep them safer! After you have get your prison built, you can sense the government that it should pay you to operate the prison that it builds to you . You then hire lobbyists who remind, state and federal lawmakers of your “contributions” . The lobbyist “suggests that contributions will continue” with enacting legislation that either creates more felonies longer sentences for existing ones and makes misdemeanors and civil infractions, felonies that carry increasingly longer prison terms.

You now lobby for a no-bid contract to build the private prison. Sell it back to the government. In turn, the government pays a private prison corporation to operate the prison that it paid another company to build .

Being real smart, you will have a financial interest. In both the prison construction corporation/ company and the private prison corporation/company. Of course you need to have your very own legislators , who will then make more felonies. So you can make even more money. Who said crime doesn't pay? Nothing like legislating your own perpetual supply and demand.

In other words, to hell with any moral or ethical problems with private prisons .

Anonymous said...

Texas coryell county, gatesville, the spawning place of all that is vile about the tyc culture, wants to profit from incarceration? No surprise here. This Texas county, coryell, has prospered from forced slave labor since the 1890’s. This county, coryell, their whole socio economic existence historically has primarily built its wealth on enslaving the throw away children of Texas. From the late 1970’s this Texas county began prospering from enslaving the mothers of the throw away children of Texas.

I recently visited the little town of gatesville, primarily to see the old school and go see the state school exhibit at the local museum, the self proclaimed spur capital of the world. There was a derogatory billboard seemingly regarding the towns beliefs towards same sex marriage. In this day and age, go figure, only in bfe Texas. The people I met and spoke with during my short visit, the eerie atmosphere, you could feel a heaviness, like a spiritual darkness over that county.

The Docent at the museum wanted to show us everything but the state school exhibit, he had a hard time locating it. Told me it was a part of the town’s history they would like to forget. In the back there was a wall dedicated to the county’s sheriffs’ with their photos. I wasn’t paying attention, since I was looking for the state school exhibit. My wife grabbed my shoulder and pointed to one of the photos and says that looks like a mean sob. There he was in the photo my wife was pointing to, the dog man, Gerald Kitchens, the kitchen. My wife only scratched the surface in picking out his character traits. The Docent spoke of him in an admiring, folk lore like manor. I wanted to throw up. Apparently he’s still alive, lives alone on the outskirts of town. My guess is only Gd will have him account for the crimes he committed against children. Those guys in the tyc latest saga of child abuse, the ones who were being punked out by the state boys in West Texas, have nothing on the dog man.

I believe all those women were moved from the Goree unit to the old state school to cover something sinister regarding events that took place on the grounds of the school. I also believe there were several such events that took place on the dog man’s watch. I would assume that there are some folks who would like to keep developers from digging around those grounds.

The place is said to be haunted. Some would say it’s the boys in Boot Hill who died in a plague in the early 1900’s. That’s a nice bed time cover story but the ghost are said to play marbles around Hackberry School. Marbles were not allowed into the facility until the 60’s, and Hackberry was built in the late 50’s. I would speculate it’s the restless souls of state boys who were never heard from again after a run.

The birth place of state sponsored child abuse and cover up wants to profits from incarcerating people, gee, I’m shocked, LOL.