One area the County Commissioners Court has overlooked is the list of requirements for private industry to provide jobs in the prison. According to state and federal laws, no prison industry can exist without compliance with the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program or PIE-CP. Without a certification under this program, no prison made goods or services can be sold except to certain government agencies, and no private company can contract for prison labor. There are 50 of these certifications available, and 38 of them have already been awarded.
There are three jurisdictions in Texas that have these certifications: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Youth Commission, and Red River County Jail. Not one of these agencies is involved, or even interested in the local prison project. That means that Tom Green County will have to get its own certification. It doesn't look like they have started that process yet. There are nine mandatory criteria that must be met before certification can be granted. These include certification that the prevailing wage will be paid, no local workers will be displaced, that local labor and industry groups have been consulted and satisfied, and that the program complies with the National Environmental Policy Act. There must even be a certification on a benefits package for the prisoners comparable to private-industry benefits, including workers compensation. This must be done by the county government, as this certification is not available to a private business or non-government organization.
So we have two problems here. First, it doesn't appear that the county has even started on getting this certification. This could be a long process, with no guarantee that the certification will be granted. Then the county has to be responsible for the private industry at the prison. They can use CCI or BAC as their agent but ultimately they will be held responsible for keeping the program in compliance with all necessary laws and regulations. Any problem with the private industry would leave the county and the tax payers on the hook for large sums of money.
In the end, the county will have to contract to supply the prisoners. The county will have to monitor the care and safety of the prisoners. The county will have to monitor the prison industry. The county will be responsible for problems in any of these areas. Tell me again about how local citizens and tax payers are protected in this private prison scheme?