McLennan County to take over Jack Harwell Detention Center


After six years of operating the Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco, LaSalle Corrections will not continue to run the jail.  

The company has had some serious issues over the years, including failing multiple state inspections.

Hope Mustakim is the Executive Director of the Waco Immigrants Alliance. She says she is glad the private company won’t be running the jail much longer.

She says in their pursuit of profit, they often neglected their responsibility in regard to inmates’ safety. Over the last year, the Detention Center was declared non-compliant for the third time after its most recent inspection in March. This inspection revealed the facility was failing to properly screen potentially suicidal inmates or inmates with mental illness.

“People not being screened for bizarre or aggressive behavior, people on suicide watch not being checked up on as much as they should be, medical neglect even,” Mustakim says.

Captain Ricky Armstrong with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office didn’t speak much about the jail’s recent issues. He just spoke about McLennan County’s next step forward.

“The next step for us is to determine what type of budget we need to ask the commissioners for to operate the facility and to determine what kind of staffing that we’re going to need to operate the facility and start hiring those staff,” Armstrong says.

Armstrong outlined how that next step could benefit county citizens.

“I think that the citizens from McLennan County can benefit from this because of our programs that we’re looking at. We’ve already started reintegration programs, and we want to continue to expand those into this facility,” Armstrong says.

While Mustakim believes the Jack Harwell Jail will be in better hands, her organization still plans to hold whoever runs it accountable.

“This is absolutely the beginning of a movement in the county towards more accountability, transparency specifically, around incarceration. So thankfully, our work is just beginning,” Mustakim says.

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