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Cameron County ships prisoners out-of-county to accomodate feds

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In a prime example of how entrepreneurial corrections can skew decisions about jail policy, Cameron County has decided to move 100 of its local inmates over 3 hours away to a private jail outside Corpus Christi.  The reason?  County officials want to ensure they have enough space to house federal detainees - a population that brings in money for the south Texas county.  Here's the story from the Brownsville Herald ("Nearly 100 Cameron County inmates going to Robstown," November 20)

The Cameron County Commissioners’ Court on Friday approved a contract with LCS Correctional Services Inc. that will allow the county to transfer nearly 100 inmates to the company’s privately run detention center in Nueces County. The inmates will be transferred to LCS’ Coastal Bend Detention Center in Robstown, said Gus Reyna Jr., chief deputy for the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department. ...

The inmate transfer is necessary for Cameron County to meet its commitment to the U.S. Marshals Service to provide space for 300 federal inmates in the county’s jail system, County Judge Carlos H. Cascos said.

While it may seem backwards to ship local jail inmates (some of whom are potentially folks not yet convicted of a crime) hours away from family, friends, and their attorneys in order to make room for federal detainees, it's a practice that we're likely to see more of with counties running their jails as profit-making entities much like private prisons.  (In a related story, Cameron County's jails were recently skewered by Texas Jail Project's Diana Claitor in the pages of the Texas Observer ("Heaven and Hell in Cameron County," November 13).)

As we've previously reported, LCS's Coastal Bend lock-up has had difficulty both passing basic inspections and finding prisoners to fill its 1,056 beds.  According to the November Texas Commission on Jail Standards numbers, the facility is currently only 56% full with federal detainees.  We'll keep you posted on the situation at Coastal Bend.


I think this is  good and bad idea. It is good because they are letting the other prisoners have more space and less overcrowdedness. It is a bad idea because the inmates who have to be transferred might not be able to see their families. Three hours away is a long drive kind of for families and friends to see their loved ones in jail.


I read somewhere that most prisons are at 107% capacity so it just makes sense that some changes have to be made.  While it is unfortunate that some will be moved away from families and friends this is just part of the overcrowding solution.  I truly don't feel too bad because most of the ones moved will have been convicted and it is just another part of the punishment.

 I can tell you don't have a family or friend in prison so that's why you fill that way ,what a chame.My family did mind the move because my brother was one of the one's that was moved and we hadden seen him for 2years so know is gona be hard to see him again been that we have work and his little girls go to school.

Oh please did they fail to state the 100 inmates they sent to the Coastal Bend Detention Center are all gang related, has caused thousands of tax payers dollars distroying the unit with riotss and fires.

Ha just a prime example of this county giving the Robstown unit their trash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!