For two decades, the North Texas Intermediate Sanctions Facility at Ft. Worth went about the business of housing hundreds of short-term parole violators. The prison is vacant largely as a result of reforms aimed at reducing the state’s penal system costs, says the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Starting in the early 1990s, Texas ignited an almost $3 billion prison building spree, turning to private prison operators to house inmates as the prison population swelled beyond the capacity of state facilities.
Now, state, count,y and city budget cuts, a decline in crime rates, an older population, and penal and court reforms have contributed to what some call a glut of inmate beds. Those factors have resulted in closed and half-empty prisons and jails. They have left local governments, which saw prisons as revenue and job-generators, scrambling to pay for facilities the state no longer needs. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice earlier this year announced $40 million in expense cuts.