County-Owned Prison Could Be Closed; 240 Local Jobs On The Line

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Federal budget cuts could force a Central Texas county to close the privately-run prison it owns, and about 240 employees have been advised they may be out of jobs later this spring.

Limestone County Detention Center (CEC photo/file)

GROESBECK (March 22, 2013)—Federal budget cuts could force Limestone County to close the privately-run prison it owns and about 240 employees have received letters from the company that runs the facility advising they could be without jobs come May 31.

The 1,000-bed Limestone County Detention Center is operated by Community Education Centers or CEC, which has a contract with the federal government to house inmates, but officials have told the company that deep automatic budget cuts will likely mean an end to the deal at the end of May.

A spokesman confirmed Friday that CEC will end operations on May 31 barring a change in circumstances.

In a statement Friday the company said it is hopeful it can help the county find “a sustainable solution for the facility’s future use.”

“CEC takes seriously the impact this has on the Limestone County community and our employees and is extending to them first consideration for new employment opportunities as positions open up at other company locations,” the statement said.

That leaves county officials with about two months to come up with a way to keep the facility, which is a major area employer, open.

“We're going to do everything we can to keep the doors open and keep as many jobs as we can at the facility,” County Judge Daniel Burkeen said Thursday.

“It’s a good facility and it’s got a good history,” he said.

Limestone County has operated the prison before, but Burkeen said he doesn’t think it could maintain current job levels or pay rates if it were to take over operations now.

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