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Commissioner Radack Proposes Hiring An Administrator For The Harris County Jail

He says it would improve the facility’s management and Judge Emmett supports his idea.

Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack is proposing to hire an administrator for the county jail, which is located near downtown Houston.
Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack is proposing to hire an administrator for the county jail, which is located near downtown Houston.

The Harris County jail has caused quite a lot of controversy in the past few years due to allegations of physical abuse of prisoners and even the death of some inmates and now Commissioner Steve Radack is proposing to hire an administrator for the facility.

The safety of both inmates and jailers is something Radack, who has had the idea of a jail administrator in mind for a while, is interested in.

Another main concern for the Commissioner is the overtime expenses caused by the jail, which impact the county’s finances.

According to the county’s budget office, the Sheriff’s Detention Department, which oversees jail operations, spent over 20 million dollars in overtime in Fiscal Year 2017, which just ended on February 28th.

That overtime is partly related to a shortage of staff for the jail, according to county officials.

Radack, who represents Precinct 3, says an administrator could fix that and other problems.

“I think you need better organization, I think you probably need better training, I think there are a number of different things,” the Commissioner told Houston Public Media after the bi-monthly meeting of the Commissioners Court.

Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Jack Cagle, who represent precincts 1 and  4 respectively, agree with Radack.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is also on board.

“I think it makes all the sense in the world for the Sheriff to look very seriously at, frankly, doing a nationwide search to find the best jail administrator we can,” Emmett commented during the meeting, while adding his position is not a criticism of Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who was elected last November.

Right now, it is up to Sheriff Gonzalez to agree or not about an administrator for the jail, but eventually it is possible he might not have a choice.

That would happen if a bill (HR 4098) State Representative Garnet Coleman (Democrat-District 147) filed last week in the Texas Legislature became law.

The bill proposes that the commissioner courts of counties with a population of at least 1.7 million people have the authority to appoint administrators over their jails.

Sheriff Gonzalez told Houston Public Media his team is reducing the overtime problem and added he is “open” to the discussion about hiring an administrator.

However, Gonzalez clarified he would want that the administrator would be under his “supervision”, among other reasons due to the changes in terms of mental health services and diversion programs that are being implemented in the jail.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Digital News Producer

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz is originally from Madrid (Spain). He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree...

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