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Brownsville Jail Hides Overcrowding Problem

Nov 19th, 2011 | Category: Cameron County

In a September 29, 2011, story,  the Brownsville Herald exposes the rampant overcrowding at the jail that has evidently gone on for many years. Then Chief Jail Administrator Mike Leinart spoke the truth, when he responded to a question about inmate population numbers.

 “We haven’t been in compliance in six years,” said Leinart.

“Don’t say that out loud,” Pct. 4 Commissioner Dan Sanchez said.

By JACQUELINE ARMENDARIZ in the Brownsville Herald

The Cameron County Commissioners Court on Thursday tabled discussion of privatizing the county’s jail system. But while addressing the significant overtime accrued by guards, a jail administrator said that state-mandated standards haven’t been met for the past six years.

Chief Jail Administrator Mike Leinart and Sgt. Sergio Moore Jr., an officer with the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center, said the overtime pay is a result of the combination of a high number of inmates who require hospital visits, and housing federal and municipal inmates without enough compensation.

As the county deals with its own tight budget, guards have been paid overtime to comply with guard-to-inmate ratios required by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Leinart said. But this month the Cameron County jail division was reprimanded by the TCJS for another reason — during a surprise visit, inmates were found sleeping on the floor.

In response to a question about inmate population numbers, Leinart said: “We haven’t been in compliance in six years.”

“Don’t say that out loud,” Pct. 4 Commissioner Dan Sanchez said.

“It’s for the record. We will be, in about the next three weeks,” Leinart responded.

Moore presented figures showing that from 2008 to 2010, guard overtime has increased each year. According to his presentation, part of the reason for this is that the number of inmates requiring hospital visits has increased each year. Transporting them takes one to two guards for each inmate, Moore said.

According to his presentation, $391,000 in overtime was paid to guards while 88 inmates were sent to the hospital in 2008. The next year, guards were paid $477,000 in overtime while 162 inmates went to the hospital. In 2010, guards were paid $495,000 in overtime and 188 inmates were transported to the hospital.

Moore also presented figures that showed that while the Cameron County jail system has more inmates than comparable systems like Hidalgo or Lubbock, it actually has fewer guards.


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