Sunday, February 04, 2007

Commission on Jail Standards turns down tent jails

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards is telling counties to cool their jets on faddish "tent jail" proposals. TCJS told Smith County last week they couldn't use tents to curb overcrowding, and in Cameron County TCJS announced that an already erected 48-person tent jail "had not been approved for construction or occupancy" and could not be used to house prisoners.

I'm no fan of the tent jail concept - largely for public safety reasons - and I'm glad to see regulators stepping up to the plate to squelch the idea. But you have to wonder what's going on in Cameron County, don't you? I was surprised to learn last year they were building the tent jail in the first place, but I'm downright shocked to learn they did so without approval from TCJS. What was the Sheriff thinking? Or was he thinking at all?

UPDATE: The Cameron County tent jail has been torn down.


Anonymous said...

Who gave them the money? That person should be punished.

If they stole the money, they should be in prison.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they also got money from the Governor's Linebacker program. Didn't that give money to Sheriff's? Counties are screaming for the state to do something and all the gov can do is give money to arrest more people. If 'crime' (measured by number of arrests!) is down by 60%, then why the tent city? ha.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I think the Commissioners Court approved it and paid for it, if I'm not mistaken. (I thought I'd blogged on it before, but can't find the post - maybe I just read the clip and meant to.) Obviously, though, the Sheriff is the one who is responsible for notifying TCJS and complying with their regs.

And yes, Cameron was indeed one of the Sheriffs departments that got Linebacker money. I can tell from your sarcasm you already know that 60% number was bogus, but just for the record, crime on the border during Linebacker/Rio Grande actually went up slightly. That's certainly not what's causing Cameron's jail overcrowding, though. They're actually leasing 300 jail beds to the US Marshals Service they could use for their own prisoners, but they'd rather play entrepeneur than provide for the public safety.