Sugar Land Prison to Close

Texas lawmakers working on a final version of the state's two year budget have agreed to close down a local prison. The unit sits on prime real estate in middle of Sugar Land. Pat Hernandez has more.

The Central Unit located near Highway 6 and Highway 90 is more than a hundred years old, but it marks the first time in the history of Texas that a prison is closing its doors, according to a press release from the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Mark Levin is the director of the Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice. He says it’s a move that leaders in Sugar Land have long asked lawmakers to approve.

“It’ll save about 25-million in operating costs, and of course the land itself is appraised for 30-million dollars. It’s right next to the general aviation airport there and in fact the city of Sugar Land, which requested that it be closed, estimated that the taxable redeveloped value is 240-million dollars, so they have some very exciting plans for that property.”

Prisoners will be transferred to other units and workers will be offered positions at other prisons in the area. Lawmakers announced a prison budget of 6.1-billion dollars of the overall state spending plan. Levin says the proposal for TDCJ is about 100-million less than the current prison budget.

“Corrections is a substantial area, after education and health care. The next two big items are transportation and corrections, and transportation is almost all of the gas tax, which is dedicated. So in terms of general revenue, corrections would be the third biggest item. It’s one area where we’ve been able to actually stabilize our costs in the last several years, so we’re pretty proud of that.”

Plans are for the doors to the prison unit in Sugar Land to close at the end of the year.