Prison, Jail Bed Glut In Texas May Hurt County Finances


Quite a few Texas jail and prison facilities – many owned by counties – overbuilt, banking on ever-growing inmate populations that haven’t materialized and now appear unlikely, says the Grits for Breakfast blog, which lists 13 and says there may be others. In most cases they were built with taxpayer backed bonds which must be paid whether or not the beds are leased.

Texas state officials last year cancelled contracts with counties for 1,900 beds and doesn’t plan to rent beds from counties under the new budget. The underfilled facilities hope the feds will bail them out by leasing more immigration detention beds, but they won’t bail out all of them and might not contract with any of them, given that there’s lots of competition from other parts of the country. Corrections Corporation of America alone has 12,500 empty beds nationwide. Just five years ago there was excess demand for private prison capacity; today there is a glut.

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