The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and its predecessor agencies have been engaged in a partnership with private vendors since 1976, when the first parole contracts for halfway house facilities were established. Today the agency contracts for about 18,700 beds in a variety of facility-types, to include prisons, state jails, pre-parole transfer, intermediate sanction, work program and halfway house facilities. Most of these contracts are for secure facilities, putting Texas among the leaders in the use of privatelyoperated facilities for housing the offender population.
This agency values this successful partnership with private vendors and sees opportunities for expansion in the future. Projections of offender population growth prepared by the Criminal Justice Policy Council indicate the number of offenders in the system will once again grow rapidly. There is immediate evidence to that effect in the growing number of admissions to TDCJ in recent months. Prior to construction of additional state prisons the agency would strongly recommend consideration of expanded contract capacity.
However, discussions today focus on the possible conversion of existing facilities to private operation in hope of achieving cost savings. Whereas the agency foresees opportunities and benefits in regards to contracting for additional capacity, the issues are far more complicated regarding conversion.
Several issues are clearly first and foremost in any analysis involving conversion of stateoperated facilities. The necessity of valid cost comparisons cannot be over-emphasized.