BCSO transferred 150 inmates to other county prisons, will move more due to capacity

The state recommends jails try to maintain 90% capacity, yet Bexar County recently got to 99%

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office appeared in Commissioner’s Court on Tuesday to explain why it has already shipped 150 inmates to neighboring counties.

It is no secret that the jail fills up faster during the summer.

However, the Bexar County commissioners did not know the jail had almost hit capacity and that BCSO had already taken action.

“I did not know the jail was already shipping out these inmates to these counties,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Grant Moody.

BCSO deputy chiefs explained that they had been dangerously close to going over the 5,075 inmate capacity, which would break their state compliance.

The state recommends jails try to maintain 90% capacity, yet Bexar County recently got to 99%.

“So at that point, the sheriff exercised his prerogative to reach out and say, ‘Look, can somebody take these, because we’ll be out of compliance,’” said BCSO Chief Deputy James Serrato.

BCSO said the transfers began in waves on June 11.

150 have already been sent. 30 went to Kerr County, and 120 went to Burnet County.

They confirmed there are another 148 that have paperwork ready so they can also be transferred.

BCSO’s proposal showed that for a full year of transporting inmates, they’d need over $4 million.

Burnet County charges $80 dollars a day per inmate. Kerr County charges $65.

“I want to know why one is higher than the other, and are there other counties we’re talking to?” said Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai.

While commissioners were understanding of the emergent situation, they said without clearer information on how long the jail would be at capacity, they suggested funding it for 90 days and then re-evaluating. Yet they did not take a vote, instead tabling the topic for two weeks.

“I’d like to make it a month-to-month process until we get a clearer picture of the jail population,” Sakai said.

The commissioners also asked about any contracts that had been signed with Kerr and Burnet counties.

BCSO said that is in the works.

“We really had to take that pressure relief valve effort, and all the paperwork is following behind it,” Serrato said.

Then, the big picture question was, what caused this immense overflow? And did it have to do with the county’s new booking system that’s created some jams?

“I don’t think we can singularly blame this on technology migration. Those numbers were ticking up for some time, so I think there’s more here than that,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez.

BCSO wanted time to break that down, so the court awaits the update.

Commissioners also requested more notice in the future, when the jail starts filling up.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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