Why Implement Cite and Release in My Community?
Texas county jails are overflowing. In early 2007, Dallas was forced to release 700 people from its county jail in order to comply with an order from the Texas Jail Standards Commission. Harris County is proposing a $300 million county bond issuance for the construction of a new jail. Hays County was able to avoid building a new $50-60 million dollar jail by implementing cite-and-release and other efficiency measures.
For many Texas cities law enforcement is the fastest growing piece of the City budget, the largest piece of the general fund and represents almost all new general fund dollars in the budget.
While for many Texas counties, the jail is the fastest growing piece of the County budget and usually has a history of overcrowding. Travis County officials estimated that implementing the option to its fullest extent would cut down their jail population by 1/3 and save $5-10 million per year.
In addition to the direct cost savings, the community is safer because the bill creates efficiencies for patrol officers. For example, the Travis County Sheriffs Office's jurisdiction covers more than 900 square miles, but all prisoners must be booked at a central facility in the heart of downtown.
Because of several natural barriers in Travis County such as Lake Travis and the Colorado River, some officers must travel more than 50 miles to book a prisoner.
Some officers were out on patrol for four hours or more to make 1 arrest. Because of staff shortages, some areas can be were unmanned during the entire arrest process. The ability to issue field release citations usually cuts the time from making an arrest and allows the officers to remain on patrol.