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contract extension

Ector County commissioners approve contract extension for troubled CEC jail

At a Monday June 13 Commissioners Court session, Ector County Commissioners approved a one-year extension of the Community Education Centers contract to operate the Ector County Correctional Center, despite numerous issues with the operation of the facility. The jail incarcerates up to 235 federal prisoners.

The facility is located directly above the County Courthouse, which proved to be an unfortunate place to have an office after repeated water and sewage leaks from the prison upstairs. Staff were forced to cover land deed records in plastic to protect them from destruction.

CEC’s deficiencies in operating the facility don’t end with maintenance. In 2013, eight former guards were sentenced for accepting cash to deliver contraband to individuals incarcerated at the prison, and in 2008 a guard was sentenced for smuggling cell phones. A 21-year-old man also committed suicide at the facility in 2008, which may have been tied to understaffing or lack of proper monitoring procedures.

The decision to renew the contract was made despite scant resources and a struggle to balance the county budget. According to OAOA.com, in a May meeting, commissioners even approved “a hiring freeze on all county departments not led by an elected official.”

Despite issues, commissioner Greg Simmons believes that revenue from the facility is helping the county and said that the county could either request new bids or extend CEC another contract renewal for the jail in 2017.

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