McAllen officials consider private jail to house 1,000 inmates

The city of McAllen may be getting a private jail in the near future.

The jail would house 1,000 prisoners and create hundreds of jobs. McAllen city officials see the private jail as an opportunity ripe for the taking.

The private jail is not a done deal, but the planning process has already started. McAllen is home to one of the busiest federal district courts in the country.

At any given time about 2,000 inmates having pending cases here.

A reason McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said a private jail is needed.

"Those inmates are spread throughout Texas right now," Rodriguez said.

The city of McAllen is considering building a detention facility to house those inmates.

The city has an intergovernmental agreement with the U.S. marshals which means they pay the city to house their inmates.

City Commissioner John Ingram said the jail is a business opportunity.

"Right now in McAllen we house about 50 prisoners, Ingram said. That generates $250,000 a year to the city."

Not only would the jail generate revenue, but it would also create jobs.

"It would create jobs for people in the area anywhere from 200 to 450 jobs," Ingram said.

Right now the city is requesting proposals by private companies to build and operate a detention facility that could house 1,000 inmates.

But many residents like Raul Vallejo are concerned about where it would be built.

"We need the jobs, McAllen resident Raul Vallejo said. We need the boost in the economy and a lot of people right now are unemployed and I think it would be a good thing. I don TMt think we need more criminals in the city they might escape and people would be in danger."

According to city documents, the facility would have to be located at least 1,000 feet from a residential area.

"What I see is that it TMs going to be in an area that wouldn TMt conflict with neighborhoods and businesses.," Rodriguez said.

The jail has been a year in the making, but officials said there are many more steps to make it an official addition to McAllen TMs city limits.

"This is a business opportunity that presents itself and it remains to be seen if we actually exercise this one," Rodriguez said.

Private companies have until September to submit their proposals.

The city commission will begin discussing an agreement in October.