TX Prison-Closing Dispute: Small-Town Economy Vs. State’s Needs


Texas is debating whether to close its Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility, a 2,100-bed, privately run minimum-security prison, says the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. State legislators last month passed a budget that reduces jail bed capacity by $97.3 million, which is exactly the amount that would be saved if both the Mineral Wells facility and the Dawson State Jail in Dallas were shuttered.

The budget calls on prison officials, rather than lawmakers, to decide which prisons to shutter and to base that decision on economic factors. Mineral Wells officials say closing the prison — one of the largest employers in the community of around 17,000 — would devastate the small city, putting more than 200 people out of work and drying up the flow of millions of dollars each year from the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. “We're going to fight this to the bitter end,” Mineral Wells Mayor Mike Allen said. “We will fully support CCA and do our best to keep it here.” Sen. John Whitmore, head of the Criminal Justice Committee, said, “I understand the concerns of Mineral Wells' leadership. But we have to do what's best for the state of Texas.”

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