Tarrant County commissioners will send another 68 inmates from the Tarrant County Jail to a private jail in Garza County, they decided at their meeting Tuesday.
Commissioners Alisa Simmons and Roy Charles Brooks, the two Democratic commissioners who have historically been against the contract, voted against the proposal.
Commissioners also voted to exempt the county from the government code that would have required it to seek other facilities to house inmates.
The county’s contract with the Giles W. Dalby Facility in Post, 38 miles southeast of Lubbock, began August 2022. Commissioners originally sent 432 inmates to the private jail using $18 million from the American Rescue Plan.
Commissioners voted to add another $22.5 million to the contract, also from ARPA, at their Sept. 5 meeting.
County leaders have cited planned HVAC maintenance and staffing shortages at the sheriff’s office as the reason for moving inmates. Tarrant County was short 235 detention officers as of Aug. 1. HVAC maintenance at the jail will begin Oct. 16.
Harris County commissioners used $25 million to send 600 inmates to Garza County in July 2022.
Simmons said she won’t be supporting any contracts like the Garza Contract until she’s convinced criminal justice leadership in the county has attempted everything to reduce the jail population.
“There are a number of strategies we have to try harder on,” she said, like doing more video magistration and reexamining bond procedures. Simmons said 60 people at the jail are in there on $200 bonds and she didn’t understand why they were being held.
The contract will last until Dec. 1, 2024.
County leaders will be bringing a plan to the commissioners to convert their jail facility at Cold Spring from a low-risk facility to a medium-risk facility at their Oct. 17 meeting, county administrator Chandler Merritt said. The plan, which will bring 384 beds online, should be finished by Dec. 2024 when the Garza contract expires.