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The cheapest jail cell is the one you don’t use

Sorry, Newton County.

Commissioners Steve Radack and Jerry Eversole held up renewal of a contract with Newton County on Tuesday, and suggested that Harris County needs to do more to get the cheapest possible jail beds.

“If the dollars are the same, I have no problems with what we’re doing, but I’m not believing that the dollars are the same,” Eversole said. “I think the cost per day per prisoner is so much less in Louisiana than we’re getting in Texas.”

[...]

[County budget officer Dick] Raycraft will report to Commissioners Court in two weeks on where Harris County sends its inmates, at what cost and whether it could formally solicit bids from other counties.

“The main thing is to get out of this business of having anybody in another jail,” Raycraft said, by reducing local jail overcrowding through reforms such as diverting the mentally ill to treatment instead of incarceration.

What he said. The county is slowly and hesitantly taking steps in that direction, though there are still some kinks to iron out. At least the basic idea has started to sink in. Grits has more.

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