That isn't news to regular Grits readers, who already know that Harris County judges frequently require defendants to post cash bond unneccessarily and jail drug users instead of sending them to treatment. Even so, I'm glad the local media has figured out who's to blame. Earlier reporting made jail overcrowding sound inevitable, like an Act of God.
Looking for more? In several prior posts all linked here, Grits discussed in detail the causes of overincarceration in Harris County, adumbrating more fully the two studies cited by the Chronicle.
UPDATE (8-23): The Chron's editorial board followed up, placing responsibility for county jail overcrowding squarely where it belongs: on former prosecutors turned "activist judges." They wrote:
The county's judiciary is drawn almost exclusively from the ranks of former prosecutors and is known for tough sentencing. However, it makes no sense to fill the jail to overflowing with nonviolent defendants who lack the financial wherewithal to buy a get out of jail pass.
Likewise, throwing prisoners convicted of minor drug offenses into the county jail is bad justice. State law recognizes that society is best-served by rehabilitating minor drug offenders through treatment and counseling in a nonpenal setting. Activist judges here, ignoring the conservative mantra that judges should follow the law, decided on their own to thwart the intent of Texas lawmakers.