Wednesday, May 18, 2011
UPDATED 05/20/11 - Senate confirms 102 year old prison will close before summers end
By Tonya Peters, Backgate Website
The Backgate has again confirmed through TDCJ that the Region III Central prison unit will be shut down completely by the end of summer. TDCJ Issued the below statement to the Backgate this morning. Employees will have until then to transfer to another prison facility or leave state employment. There was question as to whether or not the agency would be able to prolong the shutdown long enough to allow more time for employees to uproot their families and move to other facilities. That hope has faded as the legislature has set funding to end on the last day of August.
" The Legislature isn't going to fund the the operation of Central past August 31, 2011 " ~ Michelle Lyons, TDCJ Spokesperson
The Senate and House have confirmed that budget negotiations have come to a close on the Central prison unit located in Sugarland. The unit which houses about 1,500 convicts and employs 300 will be shuttered by August 31, 2011, as stated by request of the first budget committee's directive. TDCJ has stated that employees will have the option of transferring to other surrounding facilities, retirement or loss of employment. The closure is said to save the state 50 million in tax payer dollars. Employees were hopeful that last minute negotiations with the Senate's version of the budget, which called for more rainy day fund money to be utilized, would spare the facility but those hopes were dashed yesterday morning. The Backgate spoke with Senate Criminal Justice Committee chair John Whitmire (D) about the measure to close Central some weeks back. He stated to us that he is for any decision that would benefit employment in that area and public safety. The Acreage that Central is located on is highly sought after prime real estate and has a buyers already lined up to make offers on it. Sugarland community leaders as well as investors may have played a vital part in convincing state leaders to surrender the historic property. More to come..