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Louisiana Residents Pose Questions About Harris County Jail Transfers

We recently posted about Harris County's decision to transfer more than 400 prisoners to northern Louisiana -- about 6 hours away from Houston -- to deal with jail overcrowding.

The residents of Epps, Louisiana town are bothered by the recent transfers of more than 100 Harris County Jail detainees to a private prison. And they should be. Officials can't answer basic questions about the Texas prisoners that will be housed in a facility managed by the Emerald Corporation.

As a result, local residents are demanding answers that should have been answered before county officials agreed to the transfer. Epps residents recently questioned elected officials about the training standards for the private prison guards, the total number of prisoners arriving, and their risk level. It appears that city leaders could not answer those questions and put residents' fears to rest.

This latest story represents the poor policy decisions officials are making at all levels to control jail populations in the local jails. The Harris County Jail has experienced chronic overcrowding that in recent years forced as many as close to 2,000 prisoners to sleep near the floor in low-rider bunk beds. The county chose to transfer prisoners to the Epps lock-up because it could not comply with the 48:1 staffing ratios mandated by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for safety of workers and prisoners.

According to a Houston Chronicle article, a 2004 Louisiana Department of Corrections audit of the Epps facility described its staffing as "adequate."

Before officials agree to such policies that bring in prisoners from other jurisdictions they should be able to answer basic questions.

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Most of the inmates from Houston are not the worst they have.  They are the guys and girls that are mostly in for drug possesion.  Statistically most of these people are addicts and have a problem not for selling to anyone else.  Just hurting themselves because they cant break their addiction.  Many people like myself cant understand addiction because we dont have an addictive personalities but i have watched my best friend struggle for years to stay clean in and out of rehab and detox over and over and over again.  Now jail so i hope this helpes him.  They should have kept them in houston because there is a great drug proghram for the prisoners there that want the help.