Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chambers, Orange and Harris Jail Updates

I mentioned last fall the Orange and Chambers County Jails were damaged during Hurricane Rita and unable to take new prisoners for some time, but according to the minutes (pdf) of the February meeting of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, both are back online. Now would be a good time for some ambitious academic to undertake the statistical analysis I suggested to see what effect reduced arrests in those counties had on crime.

Other counties were temporarily overcrowded when Rita caused 9,400 prisoners to be evacuated from coastal prisons. Damage to two prison units for a time last fall backed up transfers of convicted felons from local jails to prison. See coverage of TDCJ's evacuation of these prisoners and Hurricane Rita's damage in this
item from the TDCJ publication Connections, and this followup. (The facility pictured is a hurricane-damaged state jail in Beaumont.)

Also, remember the situation last summer when 1,700-1,900 inmates were
sleeping on the floor at the Harris County Jail? The minutes (pdf) from the February Jail Standards Commission meeting included an update saying Harris County still had 800 inmates sleeping on the floor at last report. Progress in reducing that number was hampered by housing overflow from neighboring counties last fall during and after Hurricane Rita. I couldn't find any other web mention of the jail's overincarceration status, but Harris County officials must give another report to the Commission at their next meeting in May. (See Grits' series on Harris County jail overcrowding linked here.)

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