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Election 2016

Democratic Sheriff Candidate Ed Gonzalez Calls For Overhaul Of Harris County Jail

The former Houston city councilman and retired police officer said overcrowding at the jail threatens public safety, by draining resources that could otherwise pay for patrol officers and investigators.

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Ed Gonzalez is the Democratic candidate for Sheriff of Harris County  in the   November 8th Election.
Ed Gonzalez for Sheriff website
Ed Gonzalez is the Democratic candidate for Sheriff of Harris County in the November 8th Election.

Ed Gonzalez, the Democratic nominee for Harris County Sheriff, was a guest on Houston Matters. Gonzalez described the sheriff's office as "stagnant" and "almost going backwards," particularly in terms of the way it runs the Harris County Jail. He said overcrowding at the jail threatens the safety not only of inmates and guards but that of citizens throughout the county as well.

Houston Public Media's Coverage of Election 2016

Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016

"That's why it worries me when we're pulling money from patrols and investigations to simply plug in a hole on overtime costs in the jail, for example," Gonzalez said, "because those investigators and those patrol officers are being overworked. It sometimes can lead to mistakes."

Gonzalez admitted the problem predates the current administration under his opponent, Sheriff Ron Hickman. He said part of the solution might involve house arrest or citations rather than imprisonment for certain low-level offenses. But he also stressed the need to deal with the underlying causes of crime.

"There's three things that we're addressing in law enforcement that do not have a law enforcement response, and that's mental illness, poverty, and addiction. We've got to find community based solutions to that," he said.

Gonzalez argued that his experience as a three-term city council member and an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department makes him "uniquely suited" to help find those solutions.

Click the play button below to listen to Houston Matters’ interview with Ed Gonzalez.

 

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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