Texas prison officials, their initial budget-cutting plans rejected by legislative leaders, have shuffled the deck and come up with a new proposal to cut more administrative jobs and close two prisons earlier than planned as a way to save $50 million, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The revised plan, provided to Senate and House leaders yesterday, would lay off an additional 400 administrative workers at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and move up the planned closure of the 1,000-bed prison near Sugar Land to sometime before Aug. 31.
In addition, 500 beds at a 2,100-bed unit, a private contract prison for convicts who are soon to be paroled, would be closed by August. “What they've proposed now will work,” said Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire. “I think that's what we're going to move ahead with.” On Monday, prison officials had presented to legislative leaders their draft plan to reduce their current budget by about $75 million. It was quickly rejected by legislative leaders, because it proposed deep cuts in key drug- and alcohol-treatment treatment programs, along with layoffs of 137 parole officers and staff and 110 county probation officers and employees whose salaries are paid with state money.