Troubled New Jersey-based private prison corporation Community Education Centers announced that it would walk away from a contract with Bowie County to operate two facilities in Texarkana - the Bi-State and Annex Jail facilities. According to the Bowie County Citizen ("County Jail facility left high and dry," November 19):
"In a letter to Bowie County Judge Sterling Lacy, Michael Peletier, Senior Vice President of CEC, said, “Our obligation to manage this agreement will therefore conclude February 13, 2013.”
Lacy said he received a phone call after receiving the letter and the caller informed Lacy that CEC “just could not turn a profit there anymore which kind of makes sense because we don’t have many contract beds to start with and we have been working for two years to reduce our own jail population. The income is so thin and they don’t see that changing in the next two years. They don’t see Harris County or the state of Texas or anybody putting prisoners out contracts in the future and I think that all contributed to it.”"
As we've reported, Liberty County is considering taking their jail back under public control after CEC dramatically increased per diem rates after Liberty County successfully reduced its jail population. Perhaps Bowie County will consider following suit? Bowie County Sheriff James Prince put that option - along with contracting with other private companies on the table.
"Prince said he does not see any problems with the change over and said following the CEC departure if he takes over the management of the jail, Prince said he would re-hire the same staff currently working at the Bi-State and the Annex. Prince said whoever is chosen to take over the management of the jail; he would demand that the employees be hired."