During the creation of the most recent state budget, four Texas prisons were slated for closure. Three of them have shut their doors, and officials say the fourth won’t be far behind, according to the Associated Press.
The inmate population in Texas has declined over the last few years from 156,000 in 2011 to 146,000 in 2017. After the fourth prison closure, eight Texas state prisons will have ceased operations in the last six years, according to Department of Criminal Justice Spokesman Jason Clark.
Inmates being housed at these prisons will be transferred to other institutions, and the staff will be offered similar jobs at different facilities. Reform advocates are in favor of the change, and say it comes from legislative efforts to reduce the prison population, as well as falling crime rates. However, lawmakers did not vote to ease drug offense penalties or move 17-year-olds to the juvenile system, measures that could further reduce the number of prisons needed in the state.
Nonetheless, legislators think the decline will continue. “If we can keep the economy growing, if we can make sure we’re giving people at least adequate-type educational opportunities, there’s no reason why we can’t continue this trend,” Rep. James White, R-Hillster, chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said in an interview.