The Dallas County Jail is too crowded, a problem that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars and one that county leaders have been slow to solve, reports the Dallas Morning News. Dallas County has the nation’s seventh-largest jail system and the highest incarceration rate among Texas’ five largest counties. Many people are awaiting trial in jail unnecessarily, according to jail population numbers, judges, and lawyers. At $33 a day to house an inmate, taxpayers are picking up the tab.
Other issues that have led to crowding include dismantling of the county’s pretrial release program that helps low-risk offenders get out of jail on reduced personal bonds; delays in transporting inmates to state prisons; and a district attorney policy requiring the testing of drugs before cases can move through the system. Susan Anderson, president of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said county leaders have to look at the big picture. “You have to spend money to save money. No one is willing to do that,” she said. Some inmates have sat in jail longer than a year after being sentenced when they should have been in state prisons.