Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Texas Rejects GEO Bid to Privatize State Mental Hospital

On October 3, 2012, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced that it had rejected a bid by the GEO Group, a private prison company, to operate the Kerrville State Hospital. GEO Care, a GEO Group subsidiary, was the only company to submit a bid after bid proposals for privatizing state hospitals were requested by DSHS early in 2012.

A requirement of the bid proposals was a 10% operational costs savings for at least four years. The method GEO used to accomplish this cost reduction is ultimately what sunk the proposal.

"The reason the proposal was rejected is telling of the problems with privatization--you make your money by cutting staff and paying them less while the care of your patients suffers," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization which, along with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Public Policy Priorities and the United Methodist Church, stated their opposition to state hospital privatization in a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

The staffing cuts GEO proposed were radical--a 21% reduction in overall staffing from 542 to 428 and a reduction in psychiatric nursing assistants by 29% from 167 to 118.

In his letter to Perry and the LBB criticizing the proposal, DSHS Commissioner David Lackey criticized the proposal for lacking detail. He also noted that the cost reductions were "achieved primarily through reductions in staffing and benefits to a degree that would put both our patients and the State of Texas at risk."

The defeat of the proposal shows that coordinated advocacy can make a difference even in a pro-privatization neoconservative bastion like Texas.


As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login