Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More on South Texas Jail Boom (and Domes)

From Sunday's San Antonio Express-News, another article about the South Texas jail boom:

South Texas is experiencing a jail construction boom, with nearly 13,000 beds recently added, under construction or proposed in communities facing increasing populations and crime, many on the front line of the illegal immigration crackdown.

* * *

U.S. marshals are holding about 11,000 detainees combined in the agency's southern and western districts, more than any other two connecting districts in the nation, agency spokesman Tim Hughes said.

"The federal government is really cracking down on immigration. That has raised our prisoner total," Hughes said.

And yes, there will be domes:

While some see the boom in detention centers as evidence of the criminal justice system's failings, others call it a public safety investment that can pay financial dividends to taxpayers.

Willacy County Judge Simon Salinas cheered the 500-bed lockup cited by Bush, a "fast-track" project opened Tuesday by Management and Training Corp. that will grow next month to 2,000 beds.

"You talk about economic development, this is it," he said, noting the county's initial cut is $2.25 a day, per occupied bed.

Salinas predicted annual county income from the facility eventually would hit $10 million. The finished $64.8 million facility will feature 10 pod-like domes, built on concrete floors and made of synthetic fabric, each with 200 beds.

No word on what jailers will do with the thousands of prisoners housed in giant dome tents the next time South Texas gets hit by a hurricane (or even severe thunderstorms, for that matter).

And while we're on the subject of domes in Texas, you can read about the Eighth Wonder of the World here, the not-very-dome-like home of the Alamo Bowl here, and dome evangelists here (this last one will surely be familiar to anyone who's driven I-35 between Waco and Dallas).


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