The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is closing the Jester I Unit, located at 1 N. Jester Road, Richmond, according to a Feb. 20 statement by state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.
Citing a dwindling adult prison population statewide, Whitmire also announced the state will be closing the Garza East Unit in Beeville.
Jeremy Desel, the communications director at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said in a video statement the prisons will close during 2020. Desel said the two closures together will save Texas taxpayers $20 million annually.
The Jester I Unit is situated just west of the Grand Parkway off Harlem Road near the Aliana and Harvest Green developments.
Whitmore, who chairs the Senate committee on Criminal Justice, is a proponent of criminal justice reform as well as diversion and rehabilitation programs.
“I applaud the hard work of the leadership at TDCJ for never backing down on the goal of reducing incarceration rates and recidivism while never compromising public safety,” Whitmire said in the Feb. 20 statement.
All current employees at the prisons will be offered jobs at nearby units, according to Whitmire’s statement. He said this will not only prevent the loss of jobs but also help with understaffing issues at other facilities.
According to the Whitmire statement, the state has closed 10 adult prisons in the last nine years, and since its peak in 2011, the state inmate population has decreased from 157,000 to 140,000.
“Texas was at the forefront of criminal justice reform last decade and with sustained funding for treatment and prevention programs and a continued focus on additional reforms, Texas will continue to show the nation what it means to be tough, but smart on crime,” Whitmire said in the statement.