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June 14, 2013

Mineral Wells pre-parole transfer prison set to close

By CHRIS AGEE | Lone Star News Group

MINERAL WELLS – 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, located at Wolters Industrial Park in western Parker County, had been targeted for closure in recent years but an outpouring of support for the employer kept legislators from shuttering its doors.

In this year’s legislative session the private prison facility was again placed on the budget chopping block. Local governmental and business leaders traveled to Austin in an effort to make the city’s case for keeping the facility open. Additionally, hundreds of area residents responded to a Mineral Wells Area 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.

“Morale is still high,” said Place 1 City Councilman and CCA employee Kevin Harrison. “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.

Though the Mineral Wells facility can accommodate 2,100 inmates, it housed just a fraction – 796 – earlier this week.

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