It’s getting cheaper to outsource inmates

Now how much would you pay to ship your excess inmates somewhere else?

The county now can send an inmate to Louisiana for as low as $23 a day. Changes to the deal with the private Emerald Correctional Management also now have the company picking up the transportation tab that Harris County used to pay. The Bowie County judge actually called Harris County unbidden to offer a price break. Bowie had charged $42 per inmate per day. It now charges $39 per day for the first 300 prisoners and $38 for the next 100.

“It’s a buyer’s market,” said Jose Jimenez, the sheriff’s director of purchasing and a lead negotiator for jail space.

There’s more where that came from, too. Good for us that other counties’ poor decisions are now benefiting our county’s bottom line, but the real savings will still come from not having excess inmates to ship out.

I have long believed that what our public discourse needs is more penis references. I’d like to thank County Commissioner Steve Radack for doing his part to make that happen:

Commissioners Steve Radack and Jerry Eversole excoriated Sheriff Adrian Garcia during a June meeting for not sending inmates to the cheapest jails. At their prompting, the court last month changed the way it seeks jail deals.

Previously, the sheriff’s office negotiated with public and private jailers and brought the resulting deals to Commissioners Court for approval. Now, the court has turned the job over to the county purchasing agent, which put out a request for proposals from private and public jailers last month.

The new Bowie and Emerald deals result from the old system, Jimenez said, and from negotiations that started before June.


Radack said that seeking competitive proposals will get the county the best jail deals because it puts the purchasing agent, not the sheriff, in charge. That purchasing agent has independence from both Commissioners Court and the sheriff because he is appointed by a special board that neither controls. Just as Purchasing Agent Kelly Johnson now buys patrol cars for the sheriff, Radack explained, he can use his purchasing expertise to extract better deals for jail beds.

“His stick is a heck of a lot bigger than Adrian Garcia’s police baton,” Radack said.

Did you measure them yourself, Steve, or are you just projecting?

I’d ask why, if this is such a difference-maker, we weren’t doing it long ago, but as the story notes the market for excess inmates has taken a sharp turn in favor of the inmate suppliers in the past two years, so there probably wasn’t all that much to be done before. Plus, Radack never gave a crap about this when his buddy Tommy Thomas was Sheriff. I’ll leave it to you to decide where Thomas’ baton falls on the size spectrum.

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