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County jail at capacity again

Continued capacity issues at the Hays County Jail led county leaders to approve a pair of interlocal agreements to potentially outsource prisoners to two new locations.

Per the agreements, which were approved by a 3-0 vote, Hays County would be able to send prisoners it cannot house to McLennan County and, if needed, Limestone County. Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley and Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones were absent when the vote was taken.

Captain Julie Villalpando, the Hays County Jail administrator, said the Hays County Jail is at capacity and needs to relocate inmates on an as needed basis until expansion of the current facility is completed.

The 1-year agreement stipulates that Hays County will pay $49 per day, or $17,885 annually, per inmate to McClennan County, with a total number of transferred inmates not to exceed 100. McClennan County reserves the right to refuse or return inmates if needed.

The terms of the agreement with Limestone County have not yet been ironed out, Villalpando said. Only McLennan will be used at this time, with the possibility of sending inmates to Limestone if needed.

Villalpando said in an emailed interview the agreement with McLennan could last a minimum of two years or longer, depending on the capacity conditions at the Hays County facility.

The county’s facility, built in 1989, only has 311 available beds to house prisoners. Due to capacity issues, the county transfers 2,600 prisoners annually to other county jails, which include Burnet and Caldwell counties, Villalpando said.

In November, voters passed a $106.4 million bond for an emergency operations center and a jail expansion. The expansion, however, isn’t expected to be complete until 2020.

“We currently have inmates in other counties, so we would continue to monitor our inmate count and send only what we need to McClennan,” Villalpando said.

Villalpando said in addition to sending inmates to various nearby counties, law enforcement agencies try to keep the jail population down by cite and release and pre-trial services programs.

“All agencies in Hays County already practice a cite and release program for those allowed by law,” Villalpando said, “Also we have a pre-trial services program that keeps the lesser offenses moving and out of the jail.”

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