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Lawmaker Requests AG Opinion

State Represenative, Kevin Bailey (D-Houston), requested an Attorney General (AG) opinion on whether it is legal for a sheriff to accept a fee for work with a private prison company, according to the Waco Tribune ("Texas House member asks state to rule on whether sheriff's pay from work with private detention company is legal," September 21).

Bailey currently chairs the House Committee on Urban Affairs. His AG requests comes after several private contract scandals surfaced. Over the last year, sheriffs in Bexar County and McLennan County have come under scrutiny.

McLennan County officials have rationalized why they believe the payments from private contractors are acceptable. According to an attorney that represents McLennan County, Sheriff Lynch receives a $12,000 salary supplement -- paid to the county from CivicGenics -- for administrative services associated with leasing the county's downtown jail to the private prison company.

Bailey's request asks for certain clarifications in current law.

“Although the sheriff may not actually be a shareholder of the private organization and hold a shareholder’s interest in the private organization, there can be no doubt that the sheriff would have a ‘financial interest’ in the private organizations’ contract with the county if the sheriff receives a sizable administrative fee after approving of the contract if the contract includes such an administrative fee to the sheriff,” Bailey wrote in his letter. “Thus, such an arrangement would violate the spirit and intent, if not the language of the law.”

There are over 256 counties in Texas. Each elects a sheriff that runs and manages the county jail. There is extremely limited oversight these sheriff's actions and their management of the jail. So, further clarification by the AG would be helpful. We will keep you posted on the AG's opinion.

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Comments

Of course the McLennan County attorney can come up with reasons why the sheriff gets this money, He himself is eyeballs deep in the mess going on in Waco. He has and is currently negotiating other deals for other counties with C.E.C (the private company currently operating the downtown jail in Waco). Instead of working for the citizens of McLennan county he is contracting for this private company out of his Waco office. He stands to make a small fortune on the new McLennan County jail currently being built to be operated by C.E.C. The County Judge is also involved in this scam as is at least one county commisioner. This has been brought to the attention of the media, state government officials in Austin, and the public. But it seems that they are holding all the cards with their elected and appointed positions. If the McLennan County Jail is privatized by county officials, it will ruin the futures and careers of 200+ employees. Their jobs, retirements, and well being of their families will be swept aside for the greed of a few.