October 2013  

Harris County Proposition No.1:
Bond Issuance for Joint Processing Center

Harris County officials have included on the November 5 ballot a proposal to issue $70 million in bonds to pay a share of the construction costs for a joint inmate processing center. The proposition will appear on the ballot as "Harris County Proposition No. 1: The Issuance of $70,000,000.00 Harris County Adult Detention Central Joint Processing Center Bonds and the Levying of the Tax in Payment Thereof." Despite the required legal language on the ballot, Proposition 1 will not require a tax increase. The center is being developed jointly by Harris County and the City of Houston. The City of Houston is contributing $30 million and will pay the county a fee for each inmate booking.

Harris County has been discussing the need for a new processing center for quite some time, since the current facility often operates above capacity. The county/city facility will be located in downtown Houston across the street from the county jail complex and will handle all inmate bookings and discharges for the county and the City of Houston. This will allow the county and city to work together to save money and eliminate duplication. Offenders arrested by Houston police for serious offenses will no longer have to be booked and jailed in city facilities and then again in county facilities. They will be booked only once at the new center. It will also allow county deputies and city police officers to return to patrol duties faster.

The joint booking center will not only be used to book inmates and discharge inmates. It will also be used to match offenders with medical or social services in the community, such as substance abuse programs and housing. The goal is to help them avoid committing other crimes. A key piece will be the division of those offenders with mental health issues. Mental health experts will be available to arrange for more appropriate treatment and care outside of the criminal justice system.

Joint Processing Center

The new center will have some cells, but only for defendants who are charged with minor offenses and who will stay less than 72 hours. 

Election Day is November 5 and, if the bond passes, the new joint booking center would open in three years.