TX Local Agencies Scramble to Pay for Prisons Unneeded by State


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.

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