The suggestion to focus on reducing pretrial detention jibes with Grits' earlier analysis of Nacogdoches' overincarceration woes. On November 1, I wrote:
"We have been very reluctant to spend money on jail expansion because, after the initial construction cost, we would burden the local taxpayers with a significant yearly increase in operational cost," she said.
Nacogdoches County would spend about $750,000 more per year to operate a facility with 96 more beds, she said, a figure which does not include the cost of construction. Kennedy and Cox both agree the county should try to cut the amount of time inmates spend waiting for trials.
A decade ago 30% of jail inmates statewide were incarcerated awaiting trial; today the figure is about 48%. But in Nacogdoches County, a whopping 68% of jail inmates are incarcerated awaiting trial - mostly because they couldn't make bail. Nearly half of those are misdemeanor defendants, many of whom would be released pending trial in other counties. (Source: monthly jail population report.)I forwarded that blog post to members of the Nacogdoches Commissioners Court and the Sentinel reporter, but never received any response. Still, it sounds like they're on the right track to identifying fresh overcrowding solutions. Perhaps I'll contact Judge Kennedy today to ask for a copy of her white paper. It sounds like we might agree on a few things.