Jefferson County officials today are working on an interlocal agreement with Harris County to house overflow prisoners from Harris County's jail at the jail in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont.
Jeff Branick, assistant to Jefferson County Judge Ron Walker, said the Beaumont facility is a 400 bed jail, which currently houses inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice through a contract with GEO Group, Inc., a private management service. However, the state has found excess space in the Texas prison system to house inmates held at the courthouse jail.
"As a result of that, GEO no longer had a customer, and gave us notice under the contract that effective August 31 they would be terminating the contract," Branick said. "We have worked with them to attempt to find replacements. In the interim, we discovered Harris County does not have excess capacity, and in fact has been sending them to Louisiana to house them."
Jefferson county then approached Harris County to house some of the inmates at the courthouse jail. Currently Harris County transfers overflow prisoners to jails in Louisiana.
"We hadn't heard anything back, then yesterday all of a sudden we received an interlocal agreement," Branick said.
Jefferson County Commissioners Court met on Wednesday in a special emergency session to consider the agreement, which Harris County requested be approved before its commissioners court meets next, according to Branick. After consulting with the county attorney, provisions were found in the contract that would not allow execution of the interlocal agreement. County officials are working with representatives from GEO Group to resolve those issues.
The next scheduled meeting of the Harris County Commissioners Court is Tuesday.