TX 10,000 Empty Prison Beds Called “Bricks and Mortar We Don’t Need”


Texas Senate budget writers warned the leaders of state criminal justice agencies to stop paying for thousands of empty beds at state-owned lockups and shift that money to other, more pressing needs, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The directive came as new data showed that the 111 state prisons might have as many as 10,000 empty bunks and hundreds more at the six state-owned lockups for teenagers, even as the state pays $123 million a year to lease beds from private corrections companies.

“We're spending millions of dollars to maintain bricks and mortar we don't need,” said state Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, expressing irritation that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department between them are seeking about $400 million in budget increases even as the number of offenders in both agencies declines. “We've got to quit, once and for all, running these facilities just because they're there for economic development purposes.”

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