Harris County has a new plan for dealing with its overflow jail population.
Under the new plan, the county’s purchasing agent would ask for all interested bidders to submit their lowest prices for taking inmates, much like it does for the construction of a road. The bid specifications state that the contract is worth as much as $20 million.
The previous practice under which the sheriff’s office negotiated the deals came under fire in June when Commissioners Jerry Eversole and Steve Radack criticized Garcia for not housing inmates in the cheapest jails.
At the time Harris County had 1,221 inmates in other Texas jails, at daily rates that start at $42 per inmate, and only 381 in Louisiana, where the price was $29 a day.
The court subsequently ordered that the contracts be taken over by the county purchasing agent.
Garcia explained that factors such as medical bills and transportation complicate direct price comparisons.
In addition, County Judge Ed Emmett said after the June meeting that Louisiana jails have until recently taken only “cream of the crop” inmates — physically and mentally healthy offenders who are the cheapest to house.
This change in approach is due to carping and whining from Commissioners Radack and Eversole. They got their way, now let’s see if there was anything to their complaining. Not mentioned in this story is any progress being made about not overcrowding the jails in the first place. I seem to recall seeing an ad touting the Republican judicial slate this cycle that talked about what a great job they’ve done dealing with the jail overcrowding problem that they were largely responsible for creating in the first place (they didn’t mention that last bit). Now that they’ve all been re-elected, I hope they remember what they promised.