Groesbeck: County-owned detention center is back in business
The county-owned Limestone County Detention Center is slowly filling up with inmates again, more than three years after it was shut down, leaving 250 jobless, and costing the county millions in lost revenues.
Fifty-five Harris County inmates have been transferred to the 1,000-bed facility and Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen says he thinks hundreds more will be moved to the center after the first of the year.
Lasalle Corrections, the company the county hired to take over the prison, renovate the facility and seek inmates, now employs about 60 at the center.
Burkeen says the goal is to increase the facility’s inmate population to 600, which would mean an increase in the workforce to about 200.
The reopening will be a shot in the arm to the county’s economy and to Limestone County’s budget, both of which took a hit when the center was closed in 2013.
The facility generated millions of dollars in revenue, which accounted for about 5 percent of the county’s budget before the center was shuttered.
In July 2013 Management Training Corporation, which under an agreement with the county was supposed to have paid a minimum of $62,500 a month to rent the facility, announced that it was closing the center and pulling out after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided to stop sending suspected illegal immigrants detained at the border to the center, opting instead to return them to their home countries.
Until May 31, 2013, the detention center was operated by Community Education Centers or CEC, which pulled out after losing its contract with the federal government to house inmates, but county officials had been hopeful that MTC could keep the facility filled.