Cost of outsourcing inmates rises – again

Outsourcing Hays County inmates to other jurisdictions – a practice that has already cost taxpayers close to $2 million since the first of the year – is getting still more expensive.

On Oct. 2, the Hays County Commissioners Court updated its agreement with Burnet County to house Hays inmates when the county’s own lockup is full.

Under the new agreement, the per diem rate per inmate goes from $40 to $45 per day. Additionally, it increases the compensation for having a guard present when inmates are “admitted or committed to an off-site medical facility” from $35 per hour per guard to $40.

Burnet is one of several counties Hays has signed interlocal agreements with concerning housing inmates. Hays County also sends inmates to other counties including Caldwell, Guadalupe, Bell, Bastrop and Walker.

Most of those counties are compensated at about the same rate but the most recent new agreement to be struck, with Travis County, says that Hays will pay $70 per day per inmate or up to $3,500 daily for up to 50 inmates.

In January, County Judge Ruben Garza resurrected the practice of a weekly, public jail report. Normally, between 100 and 200 inmates are outsourced weekly, far more males than females.

Hays Count Jail’s “on paper” capacity is 362; however the state Commission on Jail Standards recommends a buffer zone, dropping the actual capacity to 311.

Outsourcing was one of the reasons behind the 2016 bond election to increase the jail’s capacity; however Sheriff Gary Cutler said the practice of outsourcing is likely to continue even after the expanded facility is ready for increased occupancy.

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