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More back and forth on the latest jail proposal

Grits argues that the latest proposal to build a new processing center for the jail would result in a tax increase because of the need to hire more staff, which is not accounted for in the bonds. The Chron wonders what all the fuss is about. I’m still looking forward to seeing progress made in reducing the overall inmate population. I believe a lot of these issues will be settled, or at least a lot less contentious, when that happens. I hope they will, anyway, because Commissioners Court has agreed to move forward with the plan.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia is proposing a central processing center, where everyone arrested by his deputies and Houston Police Department officers would be booked. It would hold 2,193 prisoners: 1,000 in booking areas and about 1,200 in cells designated for specialized populations, such as the mentally ill, medical cases and women.

The proposal does not estimate how much it would cost to staff a new facility.

The Commissioners Court granted approval of the study, which revives city-county talks that go back more than a decade.

Figuring in the staffing cost, which Grits has been harping on, is a must. Surely the overall cost to the county will be lower if the jail population is reduced, right? The more we move in that direction, the better off we’ll be.

UPDATE: Stace raises a different objection to the proposal.

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One Comment

  1. Right now Harris County’s jail has about 10,000 inmates in it with room for 11,000. (See here.) It sends about 1,200 inmates out of county. (Here.)

    That’s not so much in a jail bigger than the prison systems of 20 states. There are a half-dozen other ways judges could solve this problem nearly overnight, if they cared to do so.

    If the booking center is inadequate, why doesn’t Sheriff Garcia reduce needless bookings for pot possession, hot checks and driving with a suspended license? The Lege gave his officers discretion to write citations instead of arresting for those offenses, but he won’t let them use it.

    At a minimum, if they replace the booking center, they shouldn’t also expand capacity. The county has other tools available to solve the overcrowding problem that they should be required to use first.

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