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The Galveston option

One possible option for dealing with the overcrowded jails, at least until a more permanent solution can be implemented: Ship some inmates to Galveston.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he planned to speak with Galveston County Judge James Yarbrough about using his empty 500-bed lockup.

“If we’ve got a jail next door, it sure would make a lot of sense if we could do it,” Emmett said.

[…]

Galveston County vacated its old jail in 2006, after building a new one as part of a $99 million criminal justice complex.

Yarbrough said the old facility was in fine shape and met all state standards when it was operational, but was too small for the 900 to 1,000 inmates that Galveston County had been holding in recent years.

Both county judges said it was too early to estimate what it would cost to lease and staff the Galveston jail. Yarbrough said he probably would not be able to provide detention officers, so Harris County would have to use its own guards or pay a private contractor. But he said he would offer the best deal he could arrange.

“We can’t just give it to them, but certainly Harris County’s been a good friend on a whole number of fronts,” Yarbrough said. “We certainly would, hopefully, make a fair deal for everybody.”

Note that this is only a solution if jailers are provided by Harris County. Given that the county has had problems hiring enough jailers for its own lockups, that may be an obstacle. Or it may just make it too damn expensive. In any event, it’s just another Band-Aid fix that doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. It’s better than outsourcing to Louisiana, but it’s still not the right answer.

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