in Houston, Texas
Feds investigate Montgomery County jail, which officials consider selling
Monday, Jul 09, 2012, 01:00PM CST
By Steve Miller
jail

The construction of a Montgomery County jail required to have a population composed of at least 70 percent of federal inmates has turned into quite a mess.

A federal investigation of the jail and the selection of the contractor that built them, the Courier of Montgomery County reports.

County commissioners will step into a phone booth on Monday and change into their roles as the board of the non-profit Montgomery County Jail Financing Corporation during the scheduled commissioner’s court meeting.

Yes, the commissioners formed a non-profit group to issue public debt to build a jail in 2006. The story explains:

“The Montgomery County Jail Financing Corporation was created, in part, to seek financing through bonds exempt from federal taxes. But the approval by the Internal Revenue Service in 2006 was based on a ruling request stating federal prisoners – including those from the U.S. Marshal’s Office and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – would occupy an average of 70 percent of the 1,100 beds in the facility, according to county documents.”

But the ruling for the percentage of federal prisoners also stated, according to the Courier story, that after five years,  “(the) county expects that the number of county prisoners or prisoners of other local governmental entities in the county housed in the Jail will exceed 30 percent of the beds. Eventually, County expects that non-federal prisoners will occupy close to 100 percent of the beds in the jail.”

So, did the county build on the Field of Dreams-ish premise that the feds will deliver the inmates if the place is built?

County Judge Alan Sadler said he had no idea what the fuss is about regarding the Joe Corley Detention Center; there are zero county inmates being housed there.

And as for the other place the feds are interested in, the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility, Sadler said that, too, appears to be working fine.

Still, the commissioners will discuss selling both of them.

Back in 2008, the wise blog Grits for Breakfast noted that the plan to form a non-profit to build a jail was a bad idea that could place taxpayers at risk.

Then there’s Alliance Development, which was the general contractor on both facilities. Among the material requested by the feds of Montgomery County are documents showing payments to Alliance for any project or purchase of property involving Alliance.

The P.O. box used by Alliance on its state business filing is that same as that of Vision Park Joint Venture, also headed by Alliance President Jim Galloway, which owns three parcels of commercial land in Montgomery County totaling seven acres.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of jail by flickr user state records NSW, used via a Creative Commons license.

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