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Harris County Sheriff's Office
Friday February 17th, 2023 :: 02:42 p.m. CST


Harris County Jail Undergoes Comprehensive State Inspection

Feb. 17, 2023 - The Texas Commission on Jail Standards on Friday completed a weeklong comprehensive inspection of the Harris County Jail.

The inspection encompassed 24 areas of review, including the admission and release process, health services, supervision, discipline, exercise, education, commissary, and visitation. Inspectors determined the jail which houses about 10,000 people, will remain on a list of 13 Texas jails that are in non-compliance.

The Sheriff’s Office will now draft a corrective action plan that is due in 30 days.
Inspectors said the jail needs more staff to properly serve the people ordered into custody by local judges.

The Sheriff’s Office currently has about 150 vacant positions for detentions officers and about 100 vacant positions for deputies assigned to the jail, for a total of about 250 unfilled positions. Harris Health, which has been overseeing the delivery of medical care in the jail since last March, has also struggled to hire enough nurses and other providers to meet demand.

Harris Health employs contract labor to offset the current staffing needs. Mental health services in the jail are provided by the Harris Center for Mental Health.

These staffing issues coincide with a jail population that is at its highest point in over a decade because of a massive backlog of criminal cases pending in Harris County courts.

Today, the average person spends more than 200 days in the Harris County Jail, compared to the national jail average of about 30 days. Nearly 1,000 defendants have been outsourced to jails in North Texas and in Louisiana in an effort to reduce crowding.

The jail did not meet the compliance standard that requires staff to consistently perform visual checks on people in the jail within the required time. Inspectors also noted that people who are being booked into jail are often waiting too long before they are assigned to a cell.

The inspection team identified deficiencies in health care services provided to triaging non-emergent sick call requests. Inspectors also identified two cases where prescribed medications were not delivered on time
“We take the results of the inspection very seriously and appreciate the guidance. We are actively working in all areas of our detentions system to put corrective plans in place and with proper staffing to handle the overcrowded jail population, we can promptly address the deficiencies,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Inspectors did identify several areas of improvement since their last visit.
Specifically, they reported significant improvement in overall cleanliness, and that people in the jail seemed to have a more positive disposition than they had observed in the past.

A full inspection report will be published by the Commission in the coming days.

Harris County Sheriff's Office
1200 Baker St
Houston, TX 77002

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 713-221-6000

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