We first heard wind that Ellis County was considering privatizing its county jail earlier this year, when the Waxahatchie Daily Light reported that county officials had been holding "exploratory meetings" with Community Education Centers and LaSalle Corrections. The county issued a Request for Proposals and accepted bids until July 1st.
On Monday, Ellis County Commissioners heard from the "jail management evaluation and feasibility committee," the group tasked with appraising bids from the RFP. Of the two proposals submitted -- from CEC and LaSalle Corrections -- CEC's held up better, scoring 65 points out of 100 to LaSalle's 53. However, County Auditor Mike Navarro pointed out that the committee's function was to choose the better of the proposals, not to recommend privatization.
The Waxahatchie Daily Light notes that many community members who attended the meeting expressed opposition to privatizing the county jail, including detention officers citing good work relationships and bad reports from other privatized facilities. Ultimately, the meeting was inconclusive: the commissioners court decided not to move without first hearing from the sheriff, who was unable to attend.
If Sheriff Brown is concerned for the employees and incarcerated people he's responsible for, he'll think twice before getting behind privatization. For-profit prison companies like CEC cut costs by cutting corners on things like salaries and medical care, leading to unsafe conditions. At least one county commissioner would be on his side: Paul D. Perry of Precinct 6 posted one of our presvious articles on his Facebook page saying "I don't like giving for profit entities the power of government, especially when they can interfere with civil rights."