KSAT gets inside look at how inmates are classified

Detainees go through interviews to determine placement at Bexar County Jail

SAN ANTONIO – Inmates arriving at the county jail undergo classification interviews to help determine where they will be housed within the jail.

With five levels of custody, two more than required by the state, the jail strives to group like inmates in the same living unit to minimize the risk inmates could pose to themselves, each other or staff.

Members of the classification division of the jail ask inmates numerous questions about the connections and crimes.

"Be it gang affiliation, if they have enemies in the facility or if their crime might be a threat to their safety and security in the facility because it's a heinous act or a high-profile case," said Assistant Jail Administrator, Deputy Chief Henry Reyes.

Reyes says crimes against children, sex crimes and domestic violence are looked down upon by other inmates who could choose to dole out their own forms of punishment.

"So if somebody is booked on a crime like that, we tell them don't talk about your crime," Reyes said. "There's a subculture in jails and prisons that we don't have to agree with, but we have to be cognizant of it because the rules exist."

Inmates are often grouped together according to the type of crime they commit, but those groups could be divided into additional sections based on mental health and behavior.

"So for example if somebody is booked on a non-violent offense like traffic tickets, they're not going to be housed in the same unit as somebody who has a serious offense like robbery or burglary," said Reyes.

The offense at the time of booking is not all that's taken into account. Classification officers also review criminal histories and contact other jails or prisons where inmates might have been incarcerated to learn more about their past behaviors behind bars.

"If somebody is booked on any offense- let's say its a misdemeanor- but has a serious criminal background, they're not going to be housed with somebody who has no background but was booked for the same offense," said Reyes.

Inmates are not always honest during their classification interviews, he said. 

"Somebody gets booked into the facility, denies any gang affiliation but has tattoos that suggest gang affiliation, our officers have to be trained to recognize those signs and make decisions based on that," said Reyes.

The Bexar County Jail- the 16th largest in the nation- houses roughly 4,000 inmates on average. The average length of stay for an inmate is just over 40 days.

"Its a really complicated system, but the ultimate goal is to put inmates in the right places to increase safety and security in the facility," said Reyes.

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