A story out of McLennan County in Central Texas this week reminds us how private prison companies’ incessant pursuit of profit can end up hurting local governments.
After finishing out the current fiscal year with the jail $2 million over budget, McLennan County officials, including law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors, are looking to streamline the local justice system and cut jail costs. McLennan County Judge Scott Felton told KWTX News 10 that the county could save $2 million a year by reducing the prison population by 10 percent.
But, there’s a catch.
Any savings would be offset by a deal the county struck with private prison corporation LaSalle Corrections in May, which requires the county to pay LaSalle for 325 prison beds at the Jack Harwell Detention Center, regardless of whether or not there are prisoners to fill them. In other words, even if the county reduces the number of people behind bars, which would save money and strengthen communities, the county remains obligated to fill LaSalle’s pockets with taxpayer dollars.[node:read-more:link]