ACLU Comment on Harris County Request to Increase Jail Capacity

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
November 3, 2016 4:30 pm

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HOUSTON – Today, Harris County requested permission from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) to extend its variance bed capacity to allow nearly 200 inmates to sleep on plastic cots on the floor. The Harris County jail system contains one of the highest rates of pre-trial, legally innocent defendants in lockup. According to the TCJC jail population report, about 70 percent of defendants in Harris County have not been convicted of a crime.

The following may be attributed to Satinder Singh, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas:

“Variances are measures of last resort, not first options. Before asking for a variance, the Sheriff should examine his office’s policies that have made the county’s jails dangerously overcrowded. Instead of arresting people for low-level drug offenses, Hickman could require his officers to issue citations and keep them out of jail. He doesn’t need anyone’s permission to make that change.”

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