AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A key Senate panel has endorsed the closure of a $54 million private state prison in North Texas that ranks among the most dangerous lockups in the state.

The 2,200-bed prison in Mineral Wells is run by Corrections Corporation of America and has been under lawmaker scrutiny for several years. The Senate Finance Committee on Monday upheld recommendations to let the contract expire in August.

Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire says there is plenty of room to transfer prisoners elsewhere because of 12,000 empty beds statewide. He said the Mineral Wells facility is so ill-designed that a golf net is being used to stop contraband from being tossed over.

Republican Sen. Craig Estes, whose district includes the prison, said the economic impact of closing the prison would devastate the community.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Also Check Out: