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Grayson County Moving Ahead with Private Jail Plans Despite Opposition

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Grayson County appears to be moving ahead with plans for a new controversial private jail proposal. According to a story in the Herald-Democrat ("Commissioners accept vendors for jail proposals," September 8), the County Commission has issued an RFP to three private prison corporations for the facility.

Grayson County commissioners accepted Monday a list of three vendors as those from whom the county will request proposals for the construction of a new jail.

Commissioners cleared Corrections Corporation of America, Community Education Centers (CiviGenics) and Southwestern Correctional as vendors who would be asked to submit proposals. The proposals will be due by Oct. 1.

Commissioners decided not to seek a proposal from a fourth vendor, Southwestern Correctional. Grayson County Purchasing Agent Jeff Schneider said he recommended commissioners go with Corrections Corporation of America based on the fact that it scored highest on the county's list of requirements. Commissioners accepted that information and also discussed the county's long-standing relationship with CiviGenics, which currently houses inmates the county has to send out of county.

In answering questions from residents who addressed the Court during the public discussion period for the jail issue, County Judge Drue Bynum said there is no timetable for how long the county will take to decide which of the vendors it will use.

The proposal is not without substantial opposition, however. According to the article,

Commissioners also heard from a previous member of their ranks. Carol Shea, three times elected to the commissioner's post for Precinct 3, addressed the Court. She is not in favor of the plan to build a new jail in the location near Sher-Den Mall and said she hasn't talked to anyone who is.

Shea said this is her third round with jails in Grayson County. She said the last time commissioners put the matter to the county residents for a vote, they turned down the idea. She said a citizen's committee also recommended against building a jail. She asked if the construction of a jail in a private public partnership goes forward, who would be responsible if the enterprise fails?

Bynum said the bond holder would be held responsible.

Shea then urged commissioners to make sure that they let the people have a say in the decision about the jail. She said doing so would allow people to "keep their confidence in their elected official."

See our previous coverage of the Grayson County private jail controversy as well as some excellent coverage from Grits for Breakfast.