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Burnet County Opening New Private Jail

Via our friend Scott at Grits for Breakfast, Burnet County has moved forward with the construction of a new private jail that is an outrageous five times the size of it's current jail, according to an article in the Central Texas Business Journal ("Private jail to relieve Burnet County," January 23rd),

Relief is coming to the overcrowded Burnet County Jail in the form of a new $27 million privately operated correctional facility.

Work should wrap up in April on the new 90,000-square-foot jail on Ellen Halbert Drive, which will hold 587 beds — more than five times as many as the county’s current jail.

Due to overcrowding, the county has had to transport overflow inmates to a jail in the nearby community of Crystal City and pay to keep them there. With the opening of the new jail, inmate movement will be reversed and Burnet County will begin taking in overflow from other corrections facilities. The county will start by leasing out about 100 beds in the jail.

Southwestern Correctional LLC, based in Rayville, La., is managing the private jail. But the Burnet County sheriff remains responsible for the inmates and will have a liaison on site daily to monitor operations. Southwestern Correctional operates one other Texas correctional facility and eight in Louisiana.

I reported in November 2007 that local opposition to the jail project was large and informed, but it looks like the public officals ignored that opposition and went with the prison developers plan. Burnet County will be on the financial hook for the facility - they've issued revenue bonds, which taxpayers were not allowed to vote on, for the facility meaning the prison must remain full for the county to meet its debt obligations. How will they do that? According to the story, by bringing in federal inmates.

Revenue bonds from the Public Facilities Commission paid for the new jail and those bonds will be paid off through the fees the county collects by housing inmates from other counties and correctional departments that may contract for space, such as the U.S. Marshals or the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

It's not clear whether a contract with ICE or the Marshals has been secured. We'll keep you posted.

Comments

 i appl. for a job with all back before the jail was open , i had my interveiw and no call.

still need job, please call ken heller 512-919-0577

It is interesting that Grayson County has been going throught the same opposition, the commissioners have been ignoring the overwhelming opposition and the day that an escape occured at the Burnet facility - Grayson County Commisioners decided to allow a bond election...