Four Texas prisons could be closed or mothballed as Senate and House budget writers move to downsize state spending drastically and save more than $40 million in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice budget, the Houston Chronicle reports. If it becomes part of the final state budget as legislative leaders have recommended, the shift would mark the largest such move in state history, closing as many prisons in the next year as the state has shuttered in the past five. It marks a tangible effect of the state’s budget woes, with budget writers looking for $4 billion to cut.
The 500-bed Ware Unit in Colorado City is likely to be mothballed, and he Bartlett State Jail in Williamson County, the West Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility outside Brownfield and the Bridgeport Pre-Parole lockup northwest of Fort Worth are listed for possible closure. More than 2,700 prison beds could be taken off line in the move, reducing the size of Texas’ prison system to about 145,000 — 10,000 less than its capacity just three years ago. Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire said, “The state has excess (prison) capacity at this point, so we can do this without affecting public safety at all.”