First, I don't think it will happen. While some of the more expensive private prisons may be closed, such as CCA or GEO run prisons, Idon't believe for an instant that TDC will actually cut any employees.
The Texas Department of Corrections issued a statement on Monday advising that if it has to cut its spending by the 15% bing discussed, it would result in 7.300 layoffs of personnel.
As could be expected TDC is casting this as a "threat to public safety".
"Our goal is to keep the public's safety right here in front of us, with our eyes on the ball," Oliver Bell said. Bell is the chairman of the prison system's governing board.
Last spring, officials warned state agencies that they could expect cuts of 5% from the current budget, but exempted the Texas Department of Corrections which ended up with less than a 1% cut.
Perhaps Texas should rethink the whole "send everybody to prison and forget about them" mindset. Instead of operating the second largest prison system in the country, they could lead the way in programs designed to help people recover from their addictions and mistakes and even be a little more lenient on parole for those who are sent away.
It will be interesting to see if the cash cow private prisons like the CCA run Mineral Wells will really be under the gun. If you assume they are being paid $40 a day, a figure that has been batted around but may be a little low, and they are running at 2200 prisoners, then that amounts to $88,000 a day, or $ 32,120,000 a year. I'd be interested if anyone knows the profit margin on that place. Based on the reports of conditions there it is likely astronomical. With that much money at stake CCA can grease the right wheels to make sure the facility stays open.
The good news? The only way to reduce the number of guards and stay out of federal trouble is to reduce the number of prisoners. Since the local DAs and courts aren't going to take a chance on voter backlash against them by lightening up on the sentences, the only possible solution is to increase the number of paroles. (Hint: A great time to buy our book "How to Prepare a Texas Parole Presentation Package". The book is available as an instant download or a download a print copy suitable for being sent to a prison directly from the publisher.)
But I bet the still manage to find the money for the prisons. People may starve, unemployment will run out, highways will fall apart, kids will be uninsured, and state services to people that need it will cease, but Texas will never ease up on sending people to prison.