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Big Stories of 2013 - #4 - Two North Texas counties stand tall, reject jail privatization

As we say goodbye to 2013, Texas Prison Bid'ness is highlighting the top private prison stories of the year.  Our fourth biggest story of 2013 was the rejection of jail privatization from two North Texas counties this summer.  

Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown
This year, two conservative North Texas counties — Ellis County and Kaufman County — entertained and ultimately rejected jail privatization proposals after opposition from law enforcement professionals, public officials, and community members.  

We first heard that Ellis County was considering privatization of the Wayne McCollum Detention Center back in March when the county received responses to an RFP from LaSalle/Southwestern Correctional and Community Education Centers.   Neither bid scored well — CEC's receiving 65 points out of 100 to LaSalle's 53.  

Former Ellis County Republican Precinct Chairman Dave Vance penned an op-ed in the Waxahatchie Daily Light highlighting problems with jail privatization including reduced staff benefits and decreased performance.  Ellis County Commissioner Paul D. Perry posted one of Texas Prison Bid'ness' previous 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."  In the end, it was opposition from County Sheriff Johnny Brown that killed the deal.  

The jail privatization debate quickly moved to neighboring Kaufman County where a similar story unfolded.  Commissioners there also entertained proposals by Community Education Centers and LaSalle Southwestern Correctional, and those proposals were ultimately rejected after Kaufman Sheriff David Brynes ended negotiations following an amendment to the RFP that would have allowed privatization without any employee guarantees.

Coupling these stories with last year's rejection of jail privatization in Harris County, one has to believe the tide may be turning against county jail privatization in Texas.