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County Jail facility left high and dry

Nov. 18, 2012 at 6 p.m.


Giving Bowie County notice, Community Education Centers (CEC) intends to terminate the management agreement at the Bi-State and Annex Jail facilities in Texarkana.

In a letter to Bowie County Judge Sterling Lacy, Michael Peletier, Senior Vice President of CEC, said, "Our obligation to mange this agreement will therefore conclude February 13, 2013."

Lacy said he received a phone call after receiving the letter and the caller informed Lacy that CEC "just could not turn a profit there anymore which kind of makes sense because we don't have many contract beds to start with and we have been working for two years to reduce our own jail population. The income is so thin and they don't see that changing in the next two years. They don't see Harris County or the state of Texas or anybody putting prisoners out contracts in the future and I think that all contributed to it."

Bowie County Sheriff James Prince said he was not concerned with the termination of the CEC contract.

"It doesn't bother me," Prince said. "What we will do is put out bids for another company to come in take over which is the best option for the county to do it. If they don't then the county will have to take over as we did in the past."

Prince has the responsibility of the jail but Lacy said he has two companies that would like to take over the management of the jail.

"What he is talking about is two companies who want to be in the bid process," Prince said.

Prince said he does not see any problems with the change over and said following the CEC departure if he takes over the management of the jail, Prince said he would re-hire the same staff currently working at the Bi-State and the Annex. Prince said whoever is chosen to take over the management of the jail, he would demand that the employees be hired.

Prince explained CEC was not making money as Lacy was told but Prince said CEC was not making money at the Annex.

Prince said he was looking into the feasibility of moving the prisoners located in the Bi-State to be moved into the Annex.

Prince said he agreed with the Lacy that he expects no new bed contracts because everyone is feeling the impact of the economy and counties in Texas and the state as well. Prince said the state is paroling prisoners and have an 80 percent population. Prince said the state is making local departments work harder as felons returning from prison normally return to their former life of crime increasing the crime rate locally.

Prince said he was not stressed about the current situation and said, "God will take care of all of this and he's got a plan bigger than we know and we don't have to worry about it."

Pct. 4 Commissioner Pat McCoy said the first time the commissioners can address the problem will be Nov. 26. He said the county may ask that CEC give the county more time to address the change over so that the county can get the best management group in place.

Pct. 3 Commissioner said the first time he heard of the termination notice by CEC was on Friday and said that he did not have enough information to comment but said he understands it is an important problem for the commissioners to address.

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