Travis County agrees to take in Hays inmates

By Camelia Juarez

The transfer of prisoners from Hays County to the Travis County Jail was approved late last month, but not without concerns over the actual cost.

By an unanimous vote, Travis County Commissioners approved Hays County’s proposal to transfer prisoners from its jail facility to help alleviate overcrowding issues. However, Travis County Commissioners asked Hays County leaders to look back over the costs, a discussion that occurred as of press time.

Travis County officials estimated the cost to keep an inmate for one day would be $110.

The amount is significantly less than Hays County’s proposal of $40 a day. In August, Hays County Commissioners approved an agreement between the two entities to transfer prisoners to the Hays County Jail. 

The additional costs extend to Travis County opening a unit with extra officers who would have to work overtime and 24 hours a day. Travis County also factored in jail operation costs such as kitchen staff, medical staff, transportation and visitation.

While Hays County estimated a cost of $2,000 a day for 50 inmates, Travis County estimates the cost was closer to $3,500 a day. 

The cost increase didn’t faze Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler.

“We can work with the increase. I got inmates in Bell County right now and we’re paying $66 there. To pay four dollars more to have inmates closer to their legal representation, we can work with that,” Cutler said.

Hays County Commissioners Tuesday planned to take up Travis County’s proposed price increase at its weekly meeting. 

The agreement between counties is meant to be temporary due to a lack of space at the Hays County jail.

In August, the Hays Free Press reported Hays County had spent $1.5 million to outscore inmates to various jails across Central Texas. From July 28 to Aug. 3, Hays County had reportedly spent more than $83,000 outscoring inmates.

Hays County currently outsources inmates to Bastrop, Bell, Burnet, Caldwell, Fort Bend, Guadalupe, McLennan and Walker Counties.

Meanwhile, county officials await the expansion of the Hays County Jail, which is expected to be complete by spring 2020.

The expansion will add 190 beds at the facility and could increase the jail population to 470 inmates. Hays County’s jail has a capacity of 311 inmates.

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