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Future of Dawson State Jail Now up to Budget Conference Committee

Both the House and Senate of the Texas legisla

ture passed their budgets this week; now they're on their way to the conference committee to work out their differences.  One difference sticks out. While the Senate budget zeroes out funding for the privately operated Dawson State Jail and Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility, the House budget would not only keep them open but would also allot $19.5 million for the purchase of the now-empty prison Jones County.  

Grits for Breakfast reports:

Including the extra money to bail out Jones County, the House decision to buy a prison instead of closing two will mean an extra $116.8 million in incarceration costs over the biennium for those line items compared to the Senate budget.

The Dawson State Jail has been the target of a closure campaign since reports of tragic deaths surfaced last year.  Along with Senator Whitmire, a coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, union, and other advocacy groups has arisen in support of closure, most recently in a vigil outside the Dawson State Jail.  You can read a report about the facility, co-released by Grassroots Leadership and the Sentencing Project, here.

We'll keep you posted on developments.