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HB 3903/Private Prison Oversight Hearing on Monday

HB 3903, a bill filed by Representative Solomon Ortiz, Jr. that provides several oversight mechanisms for private jails, will be on of a long list of bills heard by the County Affairs Committee on Monday.  Here's the committee announcement:

COMMITTEE: County Affairs   
TIME & DATE:  2:00 PM or upon final adjourn/recess, Monday, April 06, 2009
PLACE: E2.016

Amongst the several aspects of the HB 3903:

  1. Requiring public hearings in each County Commissioner's district before privatization of a county jail.  Notice of the public hearings must be posted 30 days before a the hearing is held,
  2. Prohibiting a county employee or public officials, including a county Sheriff, from receiving a financial benefit from a jail contractor.  This has been an issue in McLennan County where County Sheriff Larry Lynch receives a $12,000 salary from private prison corporation CEC/CiviGenics in addition to his county salary.  The Sheriff was notably quiet when his officers protested jail privatization, and
  3. Subjecting private jail facilities to the same open records laws as publicly operated facilites for data related to facility operations. 

Check back for updates what transpires on Monday.


I work at the McLennan County Jail and I can tell you that it is not just the Sheriff who has dirty hands here. The County Judge, at least one county commisioner, and above all the county attorney that is supposed to be working for the citizens of the county is instead contracting for private jails all over the state out of his Waco office. Something stinks in Waco and Nobody wants to do anything about it.