To round out 2012, Texas Prison Bid'ness is highlighting the top private prison stories of the year, based on stories covered on our blog. Our number six story of the year is the Ballad of Liberty County.
TPB Big Story #6 - Liberty County Debates Ending Private Prison Contract
Earlier this year, we brought you the Ballad of Liberty County. With the goal of lowering the operating costs of the Liberty County Jail, 253rd District Court Judge Chap B. Cain initiated a plan to reduce the number of non-violent individuals housed in the jail. The plan was successful, reducing the number of non-violent offenders in the jail dramatically.
As we wrote back in March - 75th District Court Judge Mark Morefield, who supports the inmate reduction plan, stated: “’One (private prison) bid said that if the inmate population goes below 200, the cost per inmate goes from $63 to $68 per day. If we work really hard to decrease the inmate population, the cost will go up to $70 per day, … [t]hey are taking all the incentive out of it.’”
Unfortunately, in April, the county renewed its contract with CEC for two years, though it is continuing to study the issue of de-privatization. In October, a study by Texas A&M researcher Lynn Greenwood for Liberty County found that de-privatization of the Liberty County Jail would help the county to manage its jail costs as it continues efforts to reduce the population in its jail. According to a story in the Liberty County Vindicator:
"The county instituted a bond supervision program and successfully reduced the jail population, “undermined by the increased cost of housing inmates”, says Greenwood. The current management company, Correctional Education Centers (CEC) increased their per person per day (PPPD) with lower jail population. In Tuesday’s court meeting, commissioners approved a payment for September 2012 to CEC for $333,972, a cost of $72 PPPD. The study determined the appropriate PPPD cost for Liberty County should be $43.70."
We will keep you posted on developments to this story in 2013.
For the last few months, Texas Prison Bid’ness has been in the process of making available private prison contracts in the state of Texas. To find a contract, visit our map, where you can search by operating company and contracting agency or explore geographically; underneath the map you can choose to see a list of the facilities operated by a company.
You can also use the search function on the left of our page to look for a specific facility. available contracts and other official documents for each of the private prison facilities in ourstate. Through Texas public information laws, we’ve been able to compile contracts from nearly every state and county facility; thanks to our allies, we also have access to a number of federal contracts. We will continue to update the site as more contracts come in.
Audits and evaluations available for some facilities, such as the Dawson State Jail. Larger files, like the contract for Reeves County Detention Complex, are split into two parts. Many federal facilities are under multiple agreements between a county, a federal agency, and a company; check out Newton County Correctional Facility and IAH (Polk) Secure Adult Detention Facility for some examples.
Texas immigration advocates (including my organization, Grassroots Leadership) have joined a national effort to "Expose and Close" some of the nation's worst immigrant detention facilities. As part of that effort, two private detention centers in Texas - the Community Education Center's Polk County Detention Center and Corrections Corporation of America's Houston Processing Center - have come under fire for a range of human rights violations. From the organization's press release:
"Today, two Texas organizations released reports detailing inhumane conditions at two privately operated immigrant detention centers in Texas. Texas has more immigrant detention beds than any other state. President Obama made promises to reform the immigration detention system in 2009, however, the reality on the ground has not changed. Immigrants in detention continue to be denied basic needs, such as contact with lawyers and loved ones, inadequate food and hygiene, and access to fresh air and sunlight. They continue to receive inadequate medical care and endure racial slurs and discriminatory treatment by prison staff.
The reports – detailing conditions at the Houston Processing Center and Polk County Secure Adult Detention Facility in Livingston – are part of a national Expose and Close Campaign to highlight conditions at ten of the nation’s worst immigrant detention facilities that exemplify the egregious problems inherent throughout the system. The Campaign is calling for immediate closure of these facilities. The reports are available online here.
“At the Polk County facility, we witnessed horrific conditions,” said Texans United for Families member Sam Vong. “ICE must shut down this facility as a first step towards reducing its detained population.”"
The organizations are planning a vigil at the Polk County facility on December 8th. More information on that protest is at Grassroots Leadership's website.