We missed this story when it came out. Despite an Attorney General ruling that seemingly says that Sheriffs cannot accept salary enhancements from private prison corporations, McLennan County officials don't think the ruling applies to their relationship with CEC/CiviGenics.
According to a Waco Tribune ("McLennan County officials say attorney general opinion on sheriff's salary supplement won't affect Lynch," February 19) article from last month,
McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis and McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest said the opinion will not affect operations here because the salary supplement Lynch is paid comes from the county, not CEC.
Segrest said “this opinion has no bearing whatsoever on the situation in McLennan County,” based on his knowledge of the CEC contract and from his discussions with county officials, including county auditor Steve Moore and county attorney Mike Dixon. “The private contractor does not pay the county anything,” Segrest said. “The county pays them. So clearly, there is no administrative fee paid by the private contractor who runs the jail.
The Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), the union who has battled the McLennan County Sheriff over a new private jail operated by Community Education Centers, was having none of it.
Charley Wilkison, political and legislative director for CLEAT, challenged Lynch, based on the AG’s opinion, to write a check today and give the money back to the private contractor....
“This opinion is a great victory for the regular people of Texas, and the reason is that this goes to the cornerstone, to the fish bait, that private jail companies use to get into a community and get their hooks into the taxpayers and get their hands into their pockets,” Wilkison said.
There doesn't seem to be any resolution to this story, but we'll keep you posted when we hear something new.