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Brazos County Jail Filling Up

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Brazos County jails are filling up, but could the state be partly to blame?
County officials are worried as the jails get closer and closer to reaching maximum capacity.

"We are, at this, point getting close to that capacity to where we have to start looking for alternatives," said Wayne Dicky, Brazos County's jail administrator.

He's worried about the jails reaching maximum capacity and rightfully so. The jails can house 547 inmates and it's at 514 right now, 33 more and it's at full capacity. So what are the options?

"One of the options is that we can try to get inmates to TDC a little bit faster, inmates who've been sentenced to prison and we've been working on that," said Dicky.

But even if the county jail can process inmates faster, the state might not be ready for them due to prison overcrowding.

"If they don't build any more prison space soon and we end up prosecuting and having people go through our court system that certainly deserve prison time, we don't know where we're going to put them," said County Judge Randy Sims.

Judge Sims says too often the state takes too long getting prisoners out of county jails, occupying needed space.

An entire legal system is affected by jail over crowding. Judges may consider it when sentencing and county attorneys may think about it when working out plea bargains.

Judge Sims says judges and attorneys have a tougher job putting criminals behind bars when there is no space.

"They look at some of the not so tough cases that they have and they tend to put some of them on probation and I know the general public screams and hollers about that at times, but there's no place to put them," said Judge Sims.

"The last resort is that we could potentially contract with other counties to house some of our prisoners if we exceed our limit," said Dicky.

But with charges like $50 a day per inmate, it could get pretty costly. The county anticipates having to build a new jail in three to seven years.