Following a brief discussion, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett asked Mike Smith, the chief deputy for detention command.
"Is there a reason we have to do this today? The population is growing and we have to stay within our cell variances. We could put it off for two weeks but that would be pushingit pretty hard at that point in time if we can act immediately. I tell you what, I'd like to do that."
Harris County is authorized to jail a maximum 94,000 inmates, but the statejail commission has restrictions on allowing the inmate population exceed themaximum. Judge Emmett thinks more questions need to be answered.
"Number one, I think we need to get a far better handle of how many inmates we have,why do we have them. I mentioned the pre-adjudication. A lot of people are not bonding out,so they're being held until their trials. Obviously, we take alot of prisoners from the city thatcome into the Harris County Jail. That's part of our job and we do it."
Harris County already incarcerates over 700 inmates in Louisiana at a cost ofnine million dollars a year. That cost would be upwards of $24 million if the request to send one thousand more was approved.
"Once you start sending people across state lines, it makes it that much harder for familiesto go visit them, and it's just a concern that it seemed to be too peace meal. So, I wantedto spend two weeks and go back and say okay what are we really doing, and I really would like to look at some other facilities closer by."
Pat Hernandez, KUHF- Houston Public Radio News.