New Coalition Hopes To Reduce Jail Population

They're calling it an historic coalition. Amid growing public safety concerns, leading clergy, community leaders and area law enforcement announce the creation of an organization in an effort to promote justice and order in Harris County.

It’s called the Harris County Council for a Safer County, a coalition aimed at addressing the needs and problems in the criminal justice system. The CSC is made up of members of government, law enforcement and the clergy.

Bishop James Dixon is a member of the council’s executive board. He says it’s no secret there are people in jail who shouldn’t be there, and it is the aim of the council to reduce the rate of people who end up going back to jail.

“Of course, through intervention, innovative methods, we can begin to reduce the rates of recidivism in our county. Through vocational training and through gang intervention, through innovative education, doing things in our communities, in partnership with schools and other organizations who are all committed to one thing, and that’s making this county a safer and a healthier county for all of us to live in.”

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland says the mindset in criminal justice needs to be prevention.
“I certainly believe that if one does not have avenues to legitimate means of employment, they will find illegitimate means. I certainly believe that if one is struggling or dealing with substance abuse problems, and there is no resources put into rehabilitation when they get out of jail and prison, they’re gonna continue to have those problems. So, I do believe that we’re gonna see positive results, and save some of our young individuals that are misguided, making poor decisions, getting themselves into this criminal justice system, and have no hope of gainful employment.”

Houston clergy members in attendance
Houston clergy members in attendance

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says the coalition represents hope for those who think there is no alternative:

“We need to make sure that any organization, whether community, whether government, is committed to organizational change. As so changes the community, we have to be willing to break the barriers, change our approaches, change our way of thinking, so that we can adjust to what is occurring in our retrospective community.”

In short, authorities hope the council creates an environment that will build and maintain a robust civil society.