By CHRIS AGEE
Despite the best efforts of local leaders and state representatives, the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility is headed toward closure.
Along with it, the community will lose up to 300 local jobs and significant economic contribution through taxes and other operating expenses.
The Corrections Corporation of America-owned facility had been targeted for closure in recent years but an outpouring of support for the employer resulted from the latest attempt by legislators to shutter its doors.
Local governmental and business leaders traveled to Austin earlier this year in an effort to make the city’s case for keeping the facility open. Additionally, hundreds of area residents responded to a Chamber of Commerce call to sign letters of support, which were then sent to state legislators.
State Representatives, Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Phil King, R-Weatherford, recently passed an amendment allowing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to decide which prisons to close based on cost analysis.
Upon House approval of the amendment, many locals expressed a cautious optimism concerning the facility’s future.
State prison officials recently upheld previous recommendations, though, by deciding not to renew contracts for the Mineral Wells facility. Another CCA-owned prison, Dawson State Jail in Dallas, is also on track for a similar fate.
Prior to the decision, Place 1 City Councilman and CCA employee Kevin Harrison described the mood at the facility.
“We’re not sure [about the future],” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what they decide.”
Until they were told otherwise, he said employees continued to perform their prescribed duties.
“Moral is still high,” he said. “Everybody is still working hard and being treated fairly.”
A TDCJ spokesperson explained the CCA contracts will be allowed to expire Aug. 31. At that time, inmates from both facilities will be transported to other transfer centers.