Thursday, August 12, 2010

Glut in private prison beds bodes ill for overbuilt county jails

Here's some bad news for all those counties that speculatively overbuilt their jails planning to profit from federal contracts: They've got tons of competition. The blog Texas Prison Bidness reports that private prison company CCA said on a recent conference call with investors that there are 12,500 unoccupied beds in its system.

Even worse news: There's little doubt CCA has more political clout in Washington to swing such federal contracts than does any county government in the market. I'm betting their beds will be filled before the feds start bailing out bad decisions by Texas counties.

This report also reminds me that cutting private prison contracts up for renewal may be one of the shortest distances to eliminating unneeded prison beds at the state level, with a budget crunch upcoming and the possibility of closing prison units on the table. TDCJ this year is renegotiating those private contracts, but they shouldn't conclude the agreements until the Lege has decided how many and which prison units it may need to close.


Prison Doc said...

Grits I think you can say "I told you so again". I really feel sorry especially for small poor counties whose commissioners were sold a bill of goods about the easy money to be made renting out cells.

This is a game best left to the big boys like GEO and CCA and a few others, for even they have challenges despite their experience.

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