By Frank Knaack (Originally posted on Texas Prison Bid’ness)
Associate Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
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. This sounds like a great plan, one where the county saves millions, public safety is not harmed, and non-violent individuals are not locked up. Everyone wins … right? Wrong!
As The Cleveland Advocate reported (“County’s jail inmate population down, but companies now asking for more money per inmate,” 1/21/12), for-profit prison companies have reacted by telling the community that they will not let the county’s smart on crime approach undermine the profitability of the county jail. As 75th District Court Judge Mark Morefield, who supports the inmate reduction plan, stated: “’One 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.’” With profit as their main goal, it comes as no surprise that for-profit prison companies have actively lobbied against some criminal justice reforms and for the continuation of the failed “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice. Liberty County is just one more casualty in the for-profit prison companies’ race to maximize their bottom line.
But, Liberty County may not bow down to the for-profit prison industry. According to The Cleveland Advocate, Judge Morefield believes the county can manage its jail. For Texas Prison Bid’ness readers in Liberty County – this is your opportunity to take a stand by supporting the effort to kick the for-profit prison companies out of Liberty County!