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Harris County ships prisoners to out-of-county private jails only days after receiving $2 million jail diversion grant

Last week, Harris County, the state's largest jailer, announed that it was moving prisoners out of the county to private jails in Jefferson and Bowie counties to reduce overcrowding, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle, by St. John Barned-Smith.  According to the story,

"The transfers — which are expected to cost the county about $180,000 a month in boarding fees — mark the fourth time in the past year that the sheriff's office has had to ship inmates to jails in other parts of the state.

The transfers come just days after Harris County was named as a winner of a $2 million grant to help officials here lower high rates of pretrial detention that could lead to release of hundreds of jail inmates.

The jail had reached 96 percent capacity by Friday morning, with 9,061 of its 9,434 beds filled, said Ryan Sullivan, a department spokesman."

That $2 million grant was part of a John C. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant of more than $25 million to eleven communities across the country to implement justice reform measures.  

One might be imagine that two justice reforms that Harris County may consider would be reducing the jail population and not shipping prisoners out-of-county and further away from their loved ones, a practice that has been condemned by my organization and others.