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Internal review recommends against privatizing the Harris County Jail

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In 2010, a County Commissioner in Harris County suggested looking into privatizing the jail as a way to cut costs; a request for proposals yielded four bids, of which only CCA's was found viable.  TPB reported on the potential privatization as our biggest story of 2011.  Now, the Houston Chronicle has uncovered a confidential memo from February 11 in which "[the] evaluation committee concluded that the potential benefit is not sufficient reason to make a change at this time."

From The Houston Chronicle (Mike Morris, "Internal review rejects idea of privatizing county jail," February 21, 2013):

Privatizing the Harris County jail would be risky and may not result in savings, according to an internal county memo recommending that Commissioners Court keep the state's largest lockup in Sheriff Adrian Garcia's hands.

The memo delivered the recommendations of an internal review, which found that the potential cost savings from turning the facility over to Corrections Corporation of America would not be guarateed and that privatization could have "uncertain effects" on the wellbeing of guards and people incarcerated there.  County Judge Ed Emmitt expressed concern that privately-run facilities lack the kind of official oversight needed and that the "public wants to have somebody who's responsible for that jail and not have some private entity run it."  

In addition to running the largest county jail in Texas, Harris County has the largest sherriff's department in the state with over 4,000 employees.  Sherriff Garcia is confident in his department's capabilities, saying that they "have improved operations while saving money, we've passed jail inspections, we haven't laid off any employees and we've reduced in-custody deaths."

At the time the article was published, CCA said that it had not received any official reports.