A new juvenile detention center in Houston will exceed its capacity almost as soon as it opens in April, prompting county juvenile authorities to call for building a second facility, reports the Houston Chronicle. The $58 million Juvenile Justice Center, a renovated courthouse, includes courtrooms and a detention area. It is designed to provide individual cells and bunks for 250 inmates awaiting disposition of their cases. The county’s pre-adjudication juvenile detainee population already exceeds that number on occasion. When it does, youths have to sleep on cots in day rooms – a practice that helped cause a state agency to decertify the county’s adult jail last year.
When a Houston Chronicle reporter and photographer toured last week, 235 juveniles were held at the current facility, called West Dallas. As many as a dozen were sleeping on cots in some day rooms. In one day room, 17 boys sat around tables. Many were slated to sleep in the room on cots that night. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards found the county’s adult jail out of compliance last year because as many as 1,900 inmates were sleeping on mattresses on the floor or low cots.