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McLennan County Votes for New Private Jail

Just over a week after McLennan County voted not to privatize their existing jail and only two days after the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas asked for an investigation into suspicious dealings between the county and private prison company CEC/CiviGenics, the McLennan County Commissioners Court has voted to authorize a new 871-bed jail to be operated by CEC/CiviGenics. According to the Waco Trib blog,

A split McLennan County commissioners court voted Wednesday to renew its contract with Community Education Centers of New Jersey to operate the downtown McLennan County Detention Center and authorized CEC to finance, build and operate a new 871-bed jail adjacent to the one on State Highway 6.

With Commissioners Lester Gibson and Joe Mashek voting against the proposal, County Judge Jim Lewis and Commissioners Ray Meadows and Wendall Crunk voted during a budget work session Wednesday to allow the private company to build the new jail at no cost to the taxpayers.

Commissioners recessed their regular Tuesday morning meeting instead of adjourning it, which allowed them to take action at Wednesday’s session.

The fact that this decision was reached in a special session, outside the watchful eye of the law enforcement officers that have opposed privatization, against the advice of the local paper, and with a split Commission will not make this decision any more popular. I have a feeling this isn't the last we've hear on the McLennan County private jail fight.

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