Sunday, January 22, 2006

Faith and Liability

Bill Robinson was on the Voices radio program this morning. The question of the county's liability in the prison project was again raised, and as always the answer was incomplete.

Mr Robinson correctly states that the local government code section 303 states that the cost of the construction will be paid out of the profits of the facility, not tax revenues. That is good as far as it goes, but it ignores a very important source of liability: the actual operation of the prison.

Once the facility goes operational the county is liable in many areas and as stated previously here, here, here, and here on this blog there are many unanswered problems and unadderessed questions.

The county must be prepared to purchase and operate the facility if the vendor (CCI) goes bankrupt (section 351.103 of the local government code.) They continue to ignore this critical issue. They also ignore the fact that the county government must be the contracting agency for any prisoners (see here and here for details.)

Add in the unknown impact on public safety services such as the police and fire departments, the liabilities arising from the sheriffs inspection and supervision requirements, the lost tax revenues because of the type of facility this is, etc. and you have a long list of serious questions and issues that need to be addressed. I was disappointed that questions weren't asked about many of these issues. They have been put before the public and commissioners court before, so why no follow up?

1 comment:

  1. This problem of liability seems to escape everyone. Perhaps discussing it in concrete example will bring it home. Say this unit gets built and we actually have a few hundred inmates physically here: then CCI as a corporate entity goes belly up, what happens to the prison and its residents.

    I don't think turning them all loose is a viable option. The State of Texas doesn't have a dog in this hunt, not their job. I am pretty sure we won't be allowed to just seal the gates and let them eat one another until the last one starves. Just that scenario is why state law says, OK, you, Tom Green County, you came up with this bright idea, now deal with it. You say that will require a mega-buck tax increase? So what, not our problem. Ship the inmates back to the states they came from and we are guaranteed a lawsuit for all associated costs from each state affected. The taxpayers will really love paying high taxes to build prison units in Wisconson or Arkansas or wherever.

    Bottom line, if CCI goes belly-up, there is no upside for Tom Green County taxpayers. We already have a hole in the budget from the Roy K Robb center, we can't make money on less than 50 beds, I don't think we need to take on a 624 bed hole in the budget into which we will pour mmoney.