Here’s another op-ed about jail overcrowding in Harris County and what to do about it. It’s all familiar stuff – we’ve only been talking about this for a million years or so – but I was struck by what wasn’t said.
Harris County has made strides to safely reduce the jail population. Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos has changed the way her office prosecutes drug possession cases by no longer jailing anyone caught with trace amounts of drugs. This policy change has had a significant positive effect on reducing the jail population without an increase in crime. Sheriff Adrian Garcia has adopted pilot projects for low-risk offenders sentenced to jail. Harris County also created a public defender office, which hopefully can curtail the mass guilty pleas that principally occur because the defendant just wants to get out of jail.
We strongly urge implementation of the strategies recommended in 2009 and expounded on in a Houston Ministers Against Crime report earlier this year.
You can read more about that Ministers Against Crime report, including the report itself, here. What’s missing from this discussion is any mention of Harris County Jail Czar Caprice Cosper. What has she been up to? Google News has nothing, and a plain old Google search has nothing of substance since last February. We know what to do, we just need to quit writing reports and actually start doing it. The DA’s office has done some things, and the Sheriff’s office has done some things, but the judges for the most part are still doing what they’ve been doing with bail and bonds. When is that going to change? Grits has more.