Sunday, March 26, 2006

More on Texas' jail building boom

I mentioned yesterday Texas appears headed toward a jail building boom. Here are the jail construction projects mentioned in the minutes (pdf) of the most recent (February 2) meeting of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, representing more than 2,000 new jail beds recently added:

Jail Construction Projects Recently Completed:

  • Tarrant County, new 528-bed Green Bay unit, December
  • Hidalgo County, new 453 bed "lockdown building," December
  • Wise County, phase II completed, bed number unspecified, December
  • Galveston County, new 1,170-bed jail nearly ready, inspection in March, scheduled to open in April.
In addition, the minutes say, Parker and Anderson counties both have jail construction projects underway that will be completed in 2007. The new addition in Parker will have 323 beds, while the new Anderson County unit will add 198 beds.

Howard County was ordered to prepare plans for a new jail to present to the next Jail Standards Commisison hearing on May 4 in Austin, but Kathy Lusk, a citizen of Howard County, opposed an expansion. According to the minutes, Ms. Lusk raised issues about "renovations to the existing jail that had not been addressed," plus "a flat population (no increase in many years), taxing rate is at the maximum that it can be, so she doesn't know how they are going to fund the new jail. There are ongoing maintenance issues that are simple and routine and are overlooked, that may cause the jail to fail," said Ms. Lusk.

In Howard County, at least somebody is asking "How are we going to pay for all this?" With 11 jail construction projects underway statewide and 51 more in the planning stages it's worth asking, "How will Texas taxpayers pay to construct dozens of new jails, fix school finance, insure more kids, build more prisons, and
lower property taxes, too?"

You'd think something has got to give.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter how many you build, if you can't staff it......look at the Harris County Jail.