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The state of Texas is closing a wing of a rural prison unit because it can’t find people willing to work as guards. The state has been running the 1,375-bed Lynaugh Unit in Fort Stockton nearly 40 percent short of staff. (Fort Stockton is home to the world’s largest roadrunner, above.)
Prisons were built in rural communities often as a form of job creation. In rural Texas, however, fewer residents want the tough work and low pay (take home for a guard in Texas is $1,900 a month). Last year, Texas closed a dorm at the Dalhart Unit because of a staffing shortage.
Texas has all but dropped any qualifications for prison guards at these rural units. “We’ll take almost anyone who signs up,” said one state senator. The oil industry is booming again around Fort Stockton and that industry pays considerably better than the state.