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Big Stories of 2012 - #6 - The Ballad of Liberty County

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To round out 2012, Texas Prison Bid'ness is highlighting the top private prison stories of the year, based on stories covered on our blog.  Our number six story of the year is the Ballad of Liberty County.

 TPB Big Story #6 - Liberty County Debates Ending Private Prison Contract 

Earlier this year, we brought you the Ballad of Liberty County. With the goal of lowering the operating

costs of the Liberty County Jail, 253rd District Court Judge Chap B. Cain initiated a plan to reduce the number of non-violent individuals housed in the jail.  The plan was successful, reducing the number of non-violent offenders in the jail dramatically.  

As we wrote back in March - 75th District Court Judge Mark Morefield, who supports the inmate reduction plan, stated: “’One (private prison) bid said that if the inmate population goes below 200, the cost per inmate goes from $63 to $68 per day. If we work really hard to decrease the inmate population, the cost will go up to $70 per day, … [t]hey are taking all the incentive out of it.’” 

Unfortunately, in April, the county renewed its contract with CEC for two years, though it is continuing to study the issue of de-privatization.  In October, a study by Texas A&M researcher Lynn Greenwood for Liberty County 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

"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."

We will keep you posted on developments to this story in 2013.



Unfortunately, the commissioners have not mentioned or made any effort to address the jail issue since the report by Ms. Greenwood.  It appears that they are willing to pay the outrageous rates and allow the situation to remain static or status quo.  The jail population has dipped as low  111 inmates recently with the work of the Judges and the bond program.  With some additional tools such as electronic monitoring and other innovative tools, the population could drop even lower.  Problem is, a the jail population drop CEC's rates go up dramatically which undermines any effort to keep the population under control.  Pretty good situation for the Private Prison Industry.