The Jack Harwell Detention Center on State Highway 6 will receive 200 detainees this week from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, McLennan County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon told the commissioners court Friday.
Cawthon said the county and LaSalle Corrections, which manages the jail, entered into a verbal agreement with ICE to house a rotating group of 200 at the center until deportation. He expects the threshold to increase in the future.
This is the first agreement to house federal detainees since LaSalle took over operation of the 816-bed jail on June 13.
LaSalle was hired because of its potential to attract federal inmates. Commissioners voted in May to change the management company from New Jersey-based Community Education Centers Inc.
Cawthon said Harwell has space to receive as many as 360 inmates.
County Judge Scott Felton said such agreements are why the court decided to change management.
Revenue from the Harwell center goes to pay the county’s $49 million bond issue to build the jail, he said.
The center then pays operational costs, gains profits and, finally, shares its revenues with the county.
If there are enough federal inmates, the county also could open up its downtown Waco jail for overflow inmates.
The county pays LaSalle $45.50 per day to house each inmate. ICE will pay the county $55.50 per day for each of its inmates brought to the facility.
The county’s agreement with LaSalle requires at least 325 overflow inmates from the McLennan County Jail on Highway 6 to be housed at LaSalle.
For every federal detainee LaSalle receives, the county’s inmate threshold lowers by one.
“It’s putting individuals in the jail at that higher rate so it’s lessening the burden the county has of housing prisoners,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ben Perry said.
Felton said LaSalle is doing a good job marketing to federal agencies and expects more federal inmates to flow into the jail.