BCSO: Inmate numbers climb at detention center

Arrests in Bexar County are up over this time last year but places to put them are in short supply.

SAN ANTONIO- Arrests in Bexar County are up but space in the detention center to house the offenders is down.

"We are a victim of our own success in some case," Sheriff Javier Salazar said.

The Bexar County sheriff said area task forces are apprehending more violent suspects who end up at his detention center. His deputies are on various task forces with the San Antonio Police Department, Kirby Police and Converse Police. 

Deputies are also trying to cut through a backlog of 27,000 outstanding warrants.

"We're making an effort to pick up those folks too," Salazar said. "So those folks are ending up here too which is driving up our jail population."

Salazar also said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, at any given time, has about 100 convicted inmates at his detention center awaiting space to free up in the state's system. According to him, that does not include men and women who are at the county detention center because of parole violations.

"We need the room here for people that as a society that we're afraid of for a specific reason, a more violent person," He said. "Jail is not necessarily a place for a person you're just mad at."

Bexar County statistics show an increase in inmates year-to-year.  From May 2016 to May 2017, the inmate population grew by 18 percent. Statistically speaking, he said they haven't reached what is going to be the facility's jail population.

Salazar said the Bexar County Detention Center is at a 97 percent capacity. Jail officials prefer to operate comfortably at 90 percent to accommodate in-house transitions to prevent gang activity, special needs inmates, suicidal inmates or offenders with mental health issues.

Bexar County carved out more than $247,000 for extra beds in Karnes and Val Verde counties with the GEO group. It's an option the county has used since 2009. Under the agreement, 25-30 depending on the facility come at no cost.  

But Salazar said it budgeted money he hopes not to use.

"We're working with county court judges to get the non-violent misdemeanors (offenders) that can go elsewhere," he said.

Salazar said as an option such arrestees could be placed on GPS monitoring, gain placement in a work release program or become a trustee within the facility. The sheriff said he houses nearly 700 inmates who have been arrested for misdemeanors that could be housed elsewhere.

The sheriff said there has been talking of building a new jail tower on the north end of the detention center. That alternative has not come to fruition.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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