News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2008
Contact: Phillip Smith
(903) 589-3003

Nichols disappointed over decision to continue prison inmate labor contract

Austin -- State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) announced today the Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority has voted not to end the prison inmate labor contract between Direct Trailer and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"I am disappointed in today's action by the Authority. It is difficult to understand how this state can allow a contract to continue illegally. I stand ready to continue the fight to ensure businesses and jobs in Texas are not unfairly competing with inmate labor."

Nichols testified at a hearing of the Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority which met today to decide the fate of an inmate labor contract with Direct Trailer. Lufkin Industries located in Lufkin and Bright Coop, Inc. of Nacogdoches who were both directly competing with this inmate labor contract brought this program to the attention of Nichols and Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples last year. Numerous community leaders from Lufkin and Nacogdoches have testified in opposition to this contract.

"I support giving prisoners an opportunity for training, but I want to make sure that a job for a prisoner doesn't take away a job for a hardworking, law-abiding Texan," Nichols stated.

At previous meetings, Nichols, Commissioner Staples and Rep. Jim McReynolds called for an end to the contract with Direct Trailer due to the unfair competition between state subsidized businesses and private enterprise.

Recently, Nichols discovered that the contract was in clear violation of federal law and he presented those facts to the board today.

"It was clear to me that the federal law has mandatory requirements which this contract does not meet," said Nichols. "It appears this program is operating without regard to federal and state law, and I will continue taking every action possible to stop it."

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