County spends $1.5M to outsource inmates

The continued practice of outsourcing Hays County inmates to nearby counties will continue even as the county so far has spent $1.5 million this year alone.

Approved by the Hays County Commissioners Court on Aug. 6 in a 4-0 vote, a new agreement will now outsource prisoners to neighboring Travis County. Currently, Hays County houses inmates in Bastrop, Bell, Burnett, Caldwell, Fort Bend, Guadalupe, McLennan and Walker counties.

This new agreement with Travis County could raise the amount spent on outsourcing inmates, which hit a new high in early August.

From July 28 to Aug. 3, Hays County spent $83,921 outsourcing inmates.

“The per diem rate for detention services under this agreement is $2,000 per day for up to 50 Hays County inmates per day,” per the agreement with Travis County. 

In the event Travis County reduces the permissible maximum number of 50 Hays County inmates per day, the per diem rate for detention services shall be reduced at an equivalent ration, according to the agreement.

Outsourcing inmates to nearby counties has consistently been a concern of residents and local activists organizations.

Critics say outsourcing inmates causes representation issues for inmates who, in some cases, are more than one hundred miles away from their legal counsel.

With the criticism in mind, members of the Commissioners Court called for a plan to keep inmates closer to Hays County.

Hays County Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said outsourcing inmates to Travis County could allow inmates to be housed closer to Hays County.

Commissioners are hopeful the agreement with Travis County will help with the problem of representation.

The jail’s current capacity sits at 311 inmates. The expanded jail project will add 190 beds to the facility.

Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said Travis County officials previously did not show any interest in housing Hays County inmates.

Cutler said housing inmates in Travis County will bring inmates closer to legal representatives in Austin.

“I personally think it’s a win for us to bring inmates (closer) …,” said County Judge Ruben Becerra. “… to keep them more accessible for representation and access, so I’m grateful this is actually the direction we are taking at this window in time.”

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