Monday, January 02, 2012

Private Prison Foibles

Last week the blog Texas Prison Bidness gave us their list of the top 5 private prison stories in 2011:
1. CCA takeover would make Harris County Jail largest private prison

2. Resistance to private immigrant detention centers grows

3. ALEC and private prison lobbying exposed

4. ICE's 'detention reforms' benefit private prison contractors

5. Lawmakers attempt to privatize state jails
In related news, at this point the McLennan County Jail in Waco appears cursed by the foolish management decision to build excess capacity and let a private company manage the facility. Now they're stuck with an empty, money-losing jail and a management contractor accused of abuse that recently cost them an immigration contract with the feds. Reported KXXV-TV (Dec. 27):
The McLennan County Commissioners Court is giving Community Education Centers (CEC), a third party management company, more time to generate revenue at one local jail, despite their company being accused of abuse at another area facility.

County commissioners decided to renew a contract with the CEC for the downtown McLennan County jail Tuesday morning. The jail is currently empty while improvements are being made to bring the facility to state guidelines.

The court agreed to extend the CEC's operation of the downtown jail just days after the county had learned about abuse claims from the McLennan County Jack Harwell Jail (another facility ran by the CEC).

"I really don't know what is involved till we get the facts in," said Kelly Snell, McLennan County Commissioner. "I can't speculate on rumors."

The rumors include complaints filed by inmates about not receiving medical treatment and proper care while in the Harwell facility.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently moved all 80 of their existing inmates out of that facility after it investigated those complaints.
The ICE investigation must have come up with something if they transferred all their inmates as a result, so I suspect there's more than "rumors" behind the decision to remove them. It's difficult to feel sorry for McLennan County commissioners, who brought this on themselves, but of course it's taxpayers who bear the true burden. This star-crossed project was ill-conceived from the beginning, with today's financial woes mere recompense for commissioners' decision to gamble with taxpayer money on unneeded, speculative jail construction.

See prior Grits posts:


Jefe said...

Scott, I love your work, but please stop repeating that Harris County Jail will go private. You and Texas Prison Bidness are now citing one another as authority of its truth. That is not the same as actual substantiation. I am here at ground zero and nobody believes it but CCA stockholders.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Jefe, I cited CCA's commentary, not TPB, and since nobody but insiders knew they'd issued an RFP, the process is a lot further along than had ever been expressed to the public.

Does that mean it will happen? No. But it means folks are trying to make it happen behind the scenes, which is all Grits has ever claimed and all the TPB story says. Like it or not, it's true.

Anonymous said...

How much stock do you own in CCA?

Anonymous said...

Sincerely hope that whoever the next president is, they will have the balls to stop all the insider trading and start a huge initiative to stop all the government corruption. First train stop in Texas shoud be the free state of Harris County.

Anonymous said...


I really think if that there needs to be much more transparency with privatizing prisons. Really wish a series of new would surface revealing the pork and corruption already in the prison enterprise system of Texas. Plus, future pork and corruption that is about to hit Texas.

Thanks for you diligence in providing valuable information on this topic. Hope some legislators and tea partyers are reading.