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Oklahoma Pulls Out of TX Rent-A-Jail

The state of Oklahoma announced in July that it would pull 500-plus prisoners out of the Limestone County Detention Center, in part because of a conflict over the use of pepper spray on "unruly inmates."

Limestone County, Texas, contracts with a private firm, Capital Correctional Resources, Inc. (CCRI), to operate its rent-a-jail. The approximately 540 Oklahoma prisoners make up about two-thirds of the Limestone facility's population.

The withdrawal was precipitated by a series of complaints by Oklahoma prisoners and family members about the use of pepper spray. Oklahoma's policy allows the use of pepper spray only in emergencies and with the approval of the highest-ranking guard on duty. The policy at the Limestone rent-a-jail allows for the use of pepper spray in "minor disturbances" and requires only a sergeant's authorization.

Oklahoma was paying Limestone County about $41 per prisoner per day, or about $8.5 million annually. News accounts report that after paying on the debt incurred in building the rent-a-jail and paying the private operator, Limestone County makes a profit of more than $800,000 annually.

The Oklahoma prisoners were slated to be transferred out of Limestone in groups of 90 - 100 to another for-profit prison in Hinton, Oklahoma, that formerly held prisoners from North Carolina, said a spokesperson from the OK DOC.

Bob Prince, vice president of CCRI, said arrangements were being made for prisoners from other states to fill the void left by the departing Oklahoma prisoners, but didn't specify which state.

The Oklahoma DOC still keeps some of its prisoners in other Texas rent-a-jails, including a number of minimum-custody female prisoners who are quite unhappy about being exiled to a medium-security vermin-infested hellhole, Crystal City Detention Center, in Zavala County, TX, operated by the Bobby Ross Group.

Waco Tribune-Herald, Reader Mail

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