CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper is heading to Austin during the first week of November to meet with the Texas Commission of Jail Standards and discuss the ongoing issue of overcrowding at the Nueces County Jail.
On October 27, 2022 the Nueces County Sheriff's Office sent an alert on its app that the inmate population was at 102 percent, when the ideal capacity of the jail is 90 percent pf 1,164. According to the Sheriff's Office the population hit 1,192. Hooper said overcrowding at the jail has been a problem for years and it is an issue statewide.
"There's numerous factors that contribute to the overpopulation," Hooper added.
Some of those factors include the pandemic and a slow-moving justice system. However, regardless of the reasons Sheriff Hooper said it's vital the issue gets resolved.
"We've got to have some ability to move inmates around based on their behavior, based on their classification, based on the type of crime they're here for, based on their gang affiliation. We have to have more available space."
Because the jail is overpopulated, some inmates are held in large holding cells. It is typically not a jail living area, however, inmates are given what they need.
As part of an agreement with other jails near Nueces County, 17 inmates are being housed at the Victoria County Jail, 29 are being housed at Aransas County, and the sheriff is hoping to form another agreement to house inmates at Comal County Jail. Comal County Jail has room for female inmates, but Hooper said it is not ideal because it will be a significant expense and they could face challenges when they transport the inmates.
In short, the sheriff said it's going to take time solving the problem. More than 25 years ago, a Jail Population Committee was formed as well, and officials meet every month to discuss solutions. Building a new inmate facility has been brought up. However, hooper said to find a more permanent solution, everyone has to play a part.
"Alleviating the situation in the grand scheme of things or in the purest form means less criminals. How do we achieve that? That's something that goes beyond a sheriff's ability. That goes to the community." said Hooper.