Budget negotiators at the Texas Senate and House have tentatively agreed to close two private run state prisons resolving a political feud that threatened the criminal justice agency.
Under Friday’s agreement, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice will decide which two prisons to close.
Legislators agreed to cut $97 million from the criminal just budget under new wording in the budget, which requires two facilities to be closed. Although the bill does not specifically name the Dawson State Jail in Dallas and the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility, the $97 million is the amount it costs to run both facilities.
Legislative leaders all agree on closing the Dawson unit but representatives for Mineral Wells are pushing to keep their facility open citing closing the facility would harm the economy.
Executive Director of the Department of Criminal Justice, Brad Livingston, wrote earlier this month that the design of Mineral Wells causes security and safety concerns. Mineral Wells, built as a military barracks and not a prison, is located adjacent to a park, a college, and private land. Prison records report frequent instances of contraband drugs and cell phones tossed over the prison fence.
Because of its design, the facility cannot be both secure and in compliance with life safety code requirements.