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LaSalle Corrections gets OK to continue running jail, correctional center for another three years

by Greg Bischof | January 13, 2020 at 10:27 p.m. | Updated January 13, 2020 at 10:45 p.m.
The Bi-State Justice Building is seen at 100 N. State Line Ave. The BJB jail and Bowie County Correctional Center are managed by LaSalle Corrections. Bowie County's contract with the company is up for renewal next month. (Gazette file photo)

NEW BOSTON, Texas - LaSalle Corrections will continue to manage both the Bi-State Justice Building jail and the Bowie County's Correctional Center for another three years.

The Bowie County Commissioners Court agreed Monday to continue the contract following several weeks of contract negotiations with corrections company.

Initially, back in November, commissioners sought bids from companies seeking to operate and manage both the county's Correctional Center and Bi-State Justice Building jail - but they received only one bid and that was from LaSalle.

Last month, commissioners agreed to authorize Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell to negotiate terms contained in the firm's bid proposal submitted Nov. 25.

During Monday's meeting, Howell cited several of the contract negotiations reach, including a cut in a proposed increase of a per inmate, per day fee the company sought so as to help the firm pay for a personnel increase of at least 20 new employees. LaSalle cited the personnel increase as necessary to help it stay compliant with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

One of the provisions the firm agreed to included a $2 cut in their initial proposed per inmate, per day fee hike. Instead of receiving their requested $59.17 per inmate, per day, across the board - both at the Bi-State and at the correctional center - LaSalle will get $57.17, Howell said.

"We told them that the county couldn't afford their original offer," Howell added, noting that the requested increase wouldn't cost the county too much more - 3% more - for housing inmates in its correctional center. However, it would cost a lot more for inmates housed in the Bi-State. There, the price per inmate, per day, will be going up from the current $45.80 to $57.17.

Besides the fees, Howell said the new contract will now also allow the county to terminate the contract at will rather than supply a reason for termination - something that LaSalle has always been allowed to have. Additionally, LaSalle will check inmates into jail by first conducting a hospital check and medical screening to see if inmates are being prescribed any critical medication upon jail entry.

Howell went on to say that LaSalle will also use more audio and visual technology to help ensure that inmates are being properly checked on and monitored.

LaSalle, a private company, has managed the BCCC and Bi-State jail since 2013. The company's contract will officially undergo renewal Feb. 13.

Howell also said that the county may try once again to self-managed its own jails, like it did through most of the 1990s.

Under LaSalle's management of the two local jails, there have been four in-custody deaths since 2015.

As of August, Bowie County was on the Texas Commission on Jail Standards' list of non-compliant jails.

Inspections in the last year have indicated failure to follow the instructions of doctors treating inmates, failure to maintain accurate medical records and face-to-face inmate checks, and failure to consistently maintain correctional officer-to-inmate ratios. Some of LaSalle's employees were also found to have expired licenses.

The county's Correctional Center has 748 beds while the Bi-State Justice Building jail can hold up to 164 inmates.


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