Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office looking into short-term plan for overcrowded jail
Hidalgo County inmates have been sent to other prisons for years, but finding more facilities to house them has also been a challenge.
Sheriff Eddie Guerra says 200 of their inmates are currently behind bars in counties like Brooks, Karnes, Starr and Jim Hogg.
The law enforcement agency usually sees an overflow of inmates during the summer and holidays, but around May of this year, they noticed the contracted facilities refused to take in their inmates as they are also housing federal detainees.
"The zero-tolerance policy has caused these facilities that we contract with to be full and they do not want to accept our inmates,” said Guerra. “Because they get paid more by the federal government than what we pay.”
It’s currently costing the county $54 to house an inmate in an outside facility, while federal agencies pay $64.
While the Hidalgo County Detention Facility’s capacity is 1,232 beds, Guerra said there is enough space next to the jail to construct about six barracks as a temporary solution to overcrowding jails.
“That will hold 48 minimum security inmates, one barrack will be an exclusive to females only and the other four for males,” said Guerra.
Guerra adds that they will still have to contract with outside facilities, but an extra 240 beds will save the county $4 million a year.
The county is in the process of hiring an architectural firm to look at the layout, design and cost of the barracks.