County to send inmates to Fort Bend
Fort Bend County is another destination for Hays County inmates when overcrowding is an issue at the jail.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners Court approved an interlocal agreement with Fort Bend County, which is located in the Sugar Land-Katy area, for the care and housing of Hays County inmates at a cost of $55 per inmate per day.
“We’re sending prisoners all over the state at this point,” Hays County resident Dan Lyon said in comments on the agenda item. “And I think what we’re doing is enabling … judges to not swiftly try cases. Plus I do believe we’ve got a lot of nonviolent offenders in the jail system that could be allowed out on PR bonds. But it seems like the more we discuss this, the less gets done and the more we spend.”
Hays County Jail Administrator Julie Villalpando said the drive from Hays County to Fort Bend is 45 minutes longer than the drive from here to McLennan County (Waco). However, there is not much choice for Hays County officials as far as finding a place to put inmates.
“I am not allowed to keep an overcrowded jail,” Villalpando said. “I have to find other counties that have bed space.”
“Are we able to send our inmates to Caldwell?” Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe asked. “Are we being able to do that? I know we’ve got a contract with them.”
Villalpando said the Caldwell County Jail currently holds 20 Hays County inmates but is not able to take in any more. Moreover, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said that a portion of the McLennan County Jail had been set to close down, leaving less space for Hays County inmates — and all of this is happening at the onset of summer, when Villalpando said the inmate count always increases.
Ingalsbe said the criminal justice commission has been meeting and coming up with recommendations to help reduce the inmate population in Hays County.
“We are going to come to court soon, hopefully in the next two weeks, with some recommendations,” she said.
Becerra noted, “I am not a fan of outsourcing inmates,” and called the expense of sending inmates to other counties “burning money.”
He added, “I am looking forward to that recommendation two weeks from now. … I consider this — and I’m very optimistic when I saw this — a band-aid.”
For the week of June 9-15, the Hays County Jail population averaged 548 per day, with a peak of 555 on June 14. The county spent $76,252 that week to outsource inmates to facilities in Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, McClennan, Guadalupe and Walker counties. The average number of outsourced male inmates was 158 for the week; the average number of outsourced female inmates was 13.