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JAIL PRIVATIZATION

by on February 23, 2022

      JANUARY 2, 2020.

The privatization of jails seems to be a hot topic in today’s news.

It is our hope that this article answers your questions and provides complete transparency regarding how Parker County Jail is operated regarding tax dollars.

Privately run jails must comply with the same laws, rules and regulations which city, state and government-run jails do. In fact, privatized jails typically operate at higher standards than government-run jails do.

Correctional officers working for either a governmental entity or a private company receive the exact same training and certifications and are licensed by the same state licensing agency. The major differences between government and privately run jails are the source of their pay checks and what uniform patch they wear.

The average person may not understand how a privately-run jail can operate at a lower cost than a government-run jail is able to. In the case of Parker County Jail contracting out to LaSalle, two main factors contribute to a lower overall annual savings: bid laws/contracts and staffing.

Governments enter into contracts and must follow strict guidelines when it comes to purchasing goods and services. These very contracts save both government funding and costs government money. Privatized jail contracts allow the corporation to buy in bulk, saving the agency a substantial amount of operating funds. In Parker County’s case, privatizing the jail cut the cost of operation over $1.5 million annually, thus saving tax payer’s money.

Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler cooperates with Parker County commissioners allowing a private corporation to complete the daily operations based on a bid. All qualifications being equal, the costs per day/per inmate is at a lower rate than if the county absorbed the daily operational funding. The bid is then awarded to the vendor with the lowest costs per day/per inmate to operate.

The main way a private sector saves taxpayer’s money is through staffing. The Texas Jail Commission mandates the amount of staffing required to operate jails, regardless of the sector. Government-run facilities tend to staff at full-strength regardless of the jail population, which fluctuates. Likewise, a privately-run facility can man at full capacity when the jail population reaches the maximum limit but can move its personnel to other facilities when the jail population decreases, avoiding the need to lay-off or hire additional employees. Government-run facilities do not have the ability to move employees to other facilities or agencies.

We see varying examples of privatization in our daily lives. The Texas Department of Transportation has many highway projects contracted to private businesses and countless public schools contract with private businesses when it comes to bussing students.

When the sheriff and commissioners can cut the costs of daily jail operations to nearly $2 million per year, it only makes sense to save the tax payers dollars by privatizing.

From → Media, Press Releases

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