Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Select new operator for Jack Harwell Detention Ctr

Decision “tested the endurance” of Court

Waco – County Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to select LaSalle Corrections to operate the Jack Harwell Detention Center.

The operation has cost an estimated 300 percent of budgeted funds to house overflow county prisoners for the past two budget years, and is projected to cause the same experience in the coming budget year, according to numbers crunchers. The cost for housing overflow prisoners is expected to cost taxpayers about $6 million this budget year.

Built by a subsidiary corporation of CEC, Inc., a New Jersey outfit, the detention center cost about $50 million to build, and will require a debt service that totals about $100 million to retire revenue bonds issued by the Court in 2009.

County Judge Scott Felton thanked an executive of CEC for his organization's timely ability to help make all bond payments on time during the company's operation of the jail.

According to Commissioner Ben Perry, “We asked a lot of questions...” It was a process, he noted that “tested the endurance” of both members of the Court and that of the two contractors.

The lone holdout on the court, Commissioner Lester Gibson, noted that he is against incarceration of prisoners in privately operated facilities as he cast the single nay vote in the matter.

The LaSalle organization is a family-owned business that operates four other jails in Texas with “similar characteristics” to the Jack Harwell center. They are located in Burnet, Johnson, Jefferson and Bowie Counties, according to a press release issued by Judge Felton's office.

The company's holdings consists of 12 facilities it either manages, or owns, with a capacity for more tha 8,000 inmates and 1,100 staff.

“The centralized geographic locations for these five facilities should provide a competitive advantage to LaSalle in its efforts to service both federal populations and state populations. By offering housing and transportation services to all key Texas courts and airports, LaSalle will position itself as a major customer to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and USMS (U.S. Marshal's Service).

“LaSalle believes its relationships and expertise will help McLennan County to market its available beds to the Northern and Southern District ICE offices, to the U.S. Marshals and to be prepared for any future TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) needs.”

The new 5-year agreement contains a similar threshold stipulation of the number of occupied beds at $45.50 per day per inmate as that of the previous agreement with CEC.

The company noted it will try to use as many of the former CEC staff members as possible.

To hear an audio recording of the vote, click here:


  1. Uumm, just wondering y th county can't keep th downtown jail and run it. Seems like it would settle th overcrowding problem at our county jail! All anyone has heard for th past 1-2 years is that we r paying CEC to house our inmates! Hummm.

  2. Why didn't the county keep its downtown jail and operate it along with the Hwy 6 jail? Why should we pay CEC to house the countys overflow when they have a facility ready to use?