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Study: As Liberty County reduces jail population, ending privatization would save money

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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. 

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