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Along with the Central Unit in Sugar Land, a century-old prison southwest of Houston, the state is also shuttering three juvenile detention centers, with the goal of focusing more on rehabilitation and crime prevention, and also to save money in the face of a crushing budget deficit. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons confirmed to the Lookout that this is the first prison to be closed and not replaced in the state's history.
Texas joins a nationwide trend of shutting expensive state prisons, driven partly by red ink in state budgets, partly by a drop in convict numbers (with the lowest crime rate since 1973) and partly by a policy shift from lock-'em-up justice to rehabilitation programs.