Thursday, March 07, 2013

Boo Hoo: Fewer prisoners bad news for speculative prisons, jails

Over the weekend, the Austin Statesman's Mike Ward  authored a story titled, "County, private lockups sit empty, drain money as Texas prisoners dwindle," (March 31), pointing out that 30,000 of the state's 93,000 county jail beds are sitting empty and private prisons built on spec can't find clients. "There's not a customer out there right now for these beds," said Jones County Judge Dale Spurgin, who wants the state to lease his county's facility even though no one thinks it's needed.

Grits sees no reason for the state to bail out counties or private companies that built extra lockup space hoping to profit from incarceration, a gambit your correspondent considers cynical and untoward. For several years this blog has been documenting examples of speculative prisons and jails going bust for lack of clients. As far as I'm concerned, they made their bed, let them lie in it.


Alan said...

If these were privatized prisons, you can bet there would be legislators falling all over themselves to enhance sentences in order to create "clientele" for the prisons. Bidness always outweighs justice, fiscal prudence and common sense.

Elizabeth said...

Private enterprise is amazing. Here's an idea to make it moreso:

Wall Street has mutual funds for international companies, tech companies, utilities, the green sector - just about anything that might boom.

Why not a misery fund made up of companies that build and run private prisons?

The U.S. incarceration rate already far exceeds public-safety needs, and poor people dominate prison populations, so the fund's value would have the added utility of tracking the trading price of the freedom of lower-class citizens.

Or is this already being done?

Jim Stott said...

Vacant jail beds may have a little to do with the reforms and progressive sanctions that have been implemented since 2005. I certainly hope that's the case.

Anonymous said...

Grits, please educate Hidalgo County Sheriff before he convinces the county to pony up the money for his jail expansion project!

Orion the Hunter said...

Re Jim Stott

When crime goes up probation is blamed
When crime and prison occupancy rates fall, the economy, law enforcement, years of previous tough on crime sentencing, the weather...etc., are all to be credited for the results.
Probation appears to struggle when attempting to provide rock solid evidence that its diligence is what is driving the good results.

Jim Stott said...

OTH. You are right. Probation is generally blamed for many failures. Either we send too many to prison or we are way too liberal and treatment oriented and don't send enough to prison. Take your pick. It's a no win. However, providing that "rock solid evidence," showing statistically that we are the sole reason for the declining use of prison beds I think would be next to impossible. We can never prove if any intervention program we provided had anything to do with an offender staying out of the system. I think it does, but that's just me.