Saturday, November 17, 2007

Harris County

Back when was a graduate student in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas myself and a couple of other graduate students spent a few minutes one afternoon trying to count the number of police agencies in Harris County (Houston). We counted over 50 before we had to stop to go to class. And we hadn't even counted railroad police yet.

It's a very over-policed area, every suburban city has a police department, every school district or university campus has it's own police department, eight constables (in Texas each political precinct has a constable, an elected official which is essentially a precinct level sheriff), various federal agency offices with their own police powers, etc, etc.

It's really no surprise at all that Harris County jails have been dangerously overcrowded for over 20 years. I did some unpublished writings on jail overcrowding in Harris County in the early '90's*. Nothing's really changed.

*"Techniques for Forecasting an Urban Jail Population During Periods of Policy Disequilibrium", presentation to Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 12, 1992, with Charlie Friel.

Disaggregated Forecasts of the Harris County Jail Population: 1992-1997. Prepared for Commissioners Court, Harris County Texas, May 1991, 1-114, with C. M. Friel and M. Bodapati.

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