Jail population snapshot The county’s jail population dashboard provides daily information on who is in the jail and contains more recent data than TCJS reports. The data below is pulled from Jan. 23.
TCJS data shows the jail capacity was above 90% for most of 2008-09. In addition, Precinct 2 Commis- sioner Adrian Garcia said at a January 2022 Commissioners Court meeting that when he became sheri in 2009, his oce created programs to allow inmates to build credit toward earlier releases and to keep people with men- tal health conditions out of jail. However, he said he could do so because most people in the jail had been charged with low-risk oenses. As of Jan. 23, about 61% of the jail’s population had been charged with vio- lent or serious crimes. Last year, commissioners approved sending inmates to two private facil- ities in Louisiana and Post, Texas, for about $35 million. However, at a July 19 meeting to approve expenditure for Post, County Judge Lina Hidalgo described it as a “stopgap measure” needed to alleviate the impacts of the court case backlog. As of October, commissioners had also approved nearly $40 million in fed- eral American Rescue Plan Act funding since 2021 to tackle the court case back- log, according to the Oce of County Administration. From the oce’s Oct. 25 report to Commissioners Court, the
backlog of felony cases was down 23% since Jan. 1, 2022. County Administrator David Berry said at the July 19 meeting that using temporary federal funds and spend- ing tens of millions of dollars a year to address the problem was “not nan- cially sustainable.” On Sept. 1, 2021, with support from Commissioners Court, the Texas Leg- islature created the 482nd District Court, the rst new criminal district court in the county since 1984. Even so, Megan LaVoie, the admin- istrative director for the Texas Oce of Court Administration, said based on case lings alone, the county would need 41 more district courts during her Dec. 9 testimony before the Texas Sen- ate Committee on Criminal Justice. “It costs between [$500,000] and a million dollars to create a new district court, so there is a signicant cost at the local level,” she said. The Texas Legislature convened Jan. 10, but Wood said as of Jan. 6 that TCJS had not identied any bills that would help address jail populations.
Inmates with a mental health indicator
Inmates charged with a violent or serious crime
Total jail population (not including those outsourced to other jails) 10,033 Total number of inmates outsourced 859 SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY JAIL POPULATION DASHBOARDCOMMUNITY IMPACT
The average length of stay for an inmate 200 days
perpetrate punitive solutions that fail to address root causes of incarcera- tion,” Gundu said. Gundu said she believes the jail’s issues are the result of “accountability ping-pong” but also cited Senate Bill 6 as a reason for the rise in the jail pop- ulation. The bill, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2021, bans cashless bail for people charged with a violent oense as well as those charged with committing a felony while out on bail or community supervision following a previous violent oense charge. The bill also mandates creating a public safety report for each person booked into the jail, which Gundu claimed has lengthened the book- ing process across the board. In an
analysis of processing times pre- and post-SB 6, the Harris County Oce of Justice and Safety found the average processing time increased roughly 10% from April-December 2021 to April-December 2022 for incarcerated people not directly aected by SB 6. A path forward The county has had to address high jail populations before. The jail was over 90% capacity for much of 2005- 09, TCJS data shows, peaking at 102% in October 2006. Archived agendas from the county clerk’s oce show commissioners approved $9 million to outsource 600 inmates to Louisiana on Dec. 18, 2007, to lower the county jail population, but
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