Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Massive overtime costs at Harris County Jail

Kuff has been helpfully tracking the latest budget debates surrounding the Harris County Jail after the Houston Chronicle reported that:

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is projected to overspend its annual budget by $51 million, the third straight year it has blown past its planned expenditures by at least $40 million.

If the projections hold, the $423 million spent by the Sheriff’s Office in the year that ends Feb. 28 would be 14 percent more than Commissioners Court planned when it passed the county budget last year.

A whopping $34.4 million of that excess comes from paying jailers overtime. So if there aren't enough detention officers to staff the current jail without massive overtime costs, who will staff new jail facilities being championed by the Sheriff? That's a big reason why it's folly to think a quarter-billion dollar jail expansion will solve the county's jail problem when they can't adequately staff the facilities they have now.