New study ranks Harris County jail high on sexual assaults

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – When Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia isn’t busy protecting Houston, he’s on Capitol Hill defending his jails.

There was a study released in June that surveyed the safety of jails across the nation, and the Harris County jail on Baker Street didn’t do so good. It found the rate of sexual assaults there was 7.6%; that’s more than twice the national average, and the third worst out of the 373 jails studied.

Sheriff Garcia testified before the U.S. Department of Justice’s review panel on prison rape. While it’s clear Garcia didn’t take the study lightly, he’s still defending his jail. Garcia says they’ve made vast improvements over the past five years to protect inmates. Things like:

  • Hiring additional staff
  • Changes to inmate screening
  • Changes to hiring and training procedures
  • Setting up a hotline for inmates to report abuse
  • Adding $800,000 worth of video cameras to the jail

The improvements sound good, but not good enough for some. Critics say the changes made only help curve inmate-staff sexual relations or rape, not inmate-on-inmate rape.

But if the numbers from those study tell us anything, there’s definitely more room for improvement behind these bars.