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."
A federal jury in Corpus Christi has awarded the widow of a man who died at LCS Corrections' Brooks County Detention Center $2.25 million, according to a story in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times last week (Federal jury awards $2.25 million to widow of inmate who died at Brooks County Detention Center, October 24):
"The federal jury decided unanimously to award $2.25 million to the widow of 42-year-old Mario Garcia, who died of a seizure while on suicide watch at the center.
Garcia's family contends he was denied prescribed medications while at the facility, which led to his death 12 days after being brought there.
His condition began to quickly deteriorate after being jailed, though he was never sent to a physician or a hospital, according to the family's counsel. Garcia left behind a wife and a 10-year-old son.
Kathy Snapka, lead counsel for the Garcia family, called the death preventable and said facility staff disregarded his condition. Snapka said the family hopes the verdict in Garcia v. Niderhauser will send a message to other facilities that they will be held accountable for neglect."
A new study by Texas A&M researcher Lynn Greenwood has 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 (County Jail Study results presented, October 24):
"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."
Greenwood's study, initiated after county officials were approached by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and Grassroots Leadership last spring, illicited strong reactions from county officials, according to the Vindicator:
"Judge Cain commented after the presentation, “My observations are that we are being way overcharged. We are subsidizing CEC to house federal inmates. The bond program is working well. We have reduced the jail population from around 215 down to between 130 and 150. We can further reduce the population to 100 by instituting an ankle monitoring system, that tracks alcohol use and has GPS. The monitoring system would allow us to take 30-50 inmates out of jail, letting us reduce the number of employees and reduce the costs significantly.” Cain continued, “I can save taxpayers between one to two million dollars. It’s that simple. It’s time to take the jail back. We can operate it. We’ve got the skills. We can make things better. It’s time we took control.”
County Judge Craig McNair added, “The take away is that Liberty County is the exception to the rule. I think 100 jail population is not far-fetched. We need to be proactive.”
Commissioner Melvin Hunt (Pct. 3) commented, “It used to work.” Commissioner Charlotte Key Warner (Pct. 2) stated, “We would have more control of the costs.”"
We'll keep you posted on developments from Liberty County.
Comedian D.L. Hughley took on the private prison industry last night on The Daily Show. Take a look:
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|