Beyond the budgetary arguments against a new jail for Harris County is the very fact that it would be a central processing center in which inmates from both Harris County and the City of Houston would be booked.
Considering Houston is not running under the 287(g) or Insecure Ethnicities program yet, and considering that Houston does not turn in undocumented people for petty crimes, and considering that Harris County has touted that they turn in anyone to ICE, it is a bad idea.
It seems that the leadership is not only shirking its budgetary responsibility by not reforming the bonding rules that keep almost half of all pre-trial offenders in our jails, they are also showing their insensitivity toward people who contribute to our coffers, our economy, and have families for which to worry.
This story really is bigger that who gets the contract to build the new jail (and who gets the big political contributions, as well). It really affects families. Harris County has no business being in the business of enforcing federal civil laws.
Here’s another question: What happened to that program where the County would ship off inmates to corporate-run county jails? (Do they at least allow their employees to unionize?)