Texas’s elimination of its Criminal Justice Policy Council took place after its longtime director, Tony Fabelo, produced data that questioned the prospect of privatizing many state jails, reports the Austin Chronicle. Gov. Rick Perry’s chief of staff, a former lobbyist for a private prison company, denies responsibility.
Last June, Perry issued a line-item veto of the Council’s $1 million budget, putting Fabelo out of a job. A Republican state legislator blamed Mike Toomey, Perry’s chief of staff. “That’s an absolute lie,” Toomey told the Chronicle.
The newspaper reported that in the spring of 2003, Fabelo was called into the governor’s office and asked to “cook the books” and soften his criticism of Perry’s edict to cut 14% of the corrections budget. Fabelo, who did not comment last week, reportedly refused.
Separately, a bill in the legislature proposed to privatize 21 state jails if a 5 percent budget saving could be established. Fabelo estimated a savings of only 3 or 4 percent. The Chronicle says, “The Capitol presumption is that the real heavy…was Perry’s chief of staff, Toomey, also a former lobbyist for the Corrections Corporation of America – then managing one state jail and with plenty to gain from further privatization.”