Monday, September 10, 2007

Tuff on crime, meet reality at the Nacogdoches jail

The county of Nacogdoches has a jail so overcrowded they must rent space from neighboring Gregg County. But officials there would rather keep paying than take steps to solve the problem, reported the Nacogdoches Sentinel last week ("Local cops stay strict on minor charges," Sept. 7).

Earlier this year, Governor Rick Perry signed into law new authority to assist with local jail overcrowding. As of September 1, HB 2391 gave police discretion to issue citations instead of arresting people who commit certain low-level non-violent misdemeanors.

The Nacogdoches Sheriff made one of the most asinine comments I've heard yet on this subject:

Sheriff Thomas Kerss said the new law isn't being implemented in the county because it wouldn't necessarily reduce the jail population.

"You may delay the inevitable," he said. "If a person is charged with a Class B or above, at some point, they're still going to come into the county system, even though they may not be booked into jail at the onset."

Really? Think about that. We know the main cause of jail overcrowding in Nacogdoches is pretrial detention. But Sheriff Kerss says it wouldn't help jail ovecrowding to incarcerate FEWER people before their court date. That's just flat out not true; it's either misquoted, REALLY stupid, or utterly disingenuous.

Counties which hope to convince voters to approve new jail bonds in the future must be able to show voters they did all they could to avoid the extra expense. That's not true when local officials choose to incarcerate people they don't have to, like they're doing in Nacogdoches.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, this guy is an idiot! Has the Sheriff forgotten that most low level, non-violent misdemeanors result in probation rather than jail time???????

Sounds like the good Sheriff has relieved the DA, Judge, Jury and everyone else involved of their decision making powers in the criminal justice process.

Vox Populi said...

That's a popular thing to do in Tampa FL, too.


LOL !!!!

Anonymous said...

It's a little bit distressing to hear that similar things go on in Tampa, Florida, because you would think that that would be a slightly more sophisticated place than But Crack, Texas.