Due to overcrowding and lack of manpower, Friday, the Burnet County Sheriff relayed the message that the Burnet County will no longer be accepting most class C misdemeanor suspects. Wednesday, Jail Captain Kathy Sievers said two county justices of the peace disagreed with the plan. Seivers said the county will accept them, but if their stay is longer than two days, the inmates will be transported to the Zavala County Jail in Crystal City. The facility is handling Burnet County's overflow.Class C misdemeanors are the most petty class of nonviolent offenses for which the sole punishment is a fine, not jail time, so it makes sense not to take most of these folks to jail in the first place.
Tuesday, 29 Burnet County inmates were in Crystal City. It costs Burnet County $45 a day per inmate to house their inmates in the South Texas jail. The cost does not include the gas and time it takes to make the 400 mile trip. All 98 beds at the Burnet County jail are full.
Until recently, I was under the impression that Class Cs made up a small percentage of arrests, but a report this summer (pdf, p. 5) found that in Austin, 22% of all arrests by APD were for Class C misdemeanors, so roughly one in five people entering the Travis County jail are there for offenses that carry no jail time. If the same is true in Burnet County, the Sheriff's new policy may well save the county quite a bit of money with little risk to public safety.