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Coastal Bend jails experiencing overcrowding, County Sheriff's express concern

Both Counties admit that they've had problems finding spaces for inmates to reside.

NUECES COUNTY, Texas — With county jails reaching capacity, law officials are finding it difficult to house inmates.  

According to Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper, being over 90-percent capacity has been a trend now for over a year. 

"We're full at 90 because when you get over 90 percent, it really impacts your ability for classification and placement of inmates based on their classification," Hooper said.  

The influx in inmates and lack of space has caused counties to lean on outside assistance.  

"At this time we have thirty of our Nueces County inmates that are being housed at two other counties, at our expense," Hooper said.   

Because they require outside assistance, the county has spent thousands of dollars trying to house inmates.  

“The county has already spent over $120,000 to house inmates elsewhere," Hooper said.  

According to San Patricio County Sheriff Oscar Riviera, limited space is also a problem in their county, as well.  

"We have room for two. We're at 228 this morning. We normally hold 230 as our max," Riviera said.  

According to Riviera, San Patricio County has also had to lean on other counties for assistance.  

"We've been taking people as far north as Wilson County, and of course, our neighboring county Bee County built a larger jail, so we're using up their empty spaces to send our prisoners over there," Riviera said.  

According to officials, counties having to lean on each other is a direct result of the pandemic having a chain reaction on the community.  

The pandemic has impacted the courts, which have in turn, impacted the jails.  

"Courts are a little slower. They are in progress and we got a big case coming up next week and hopefully we'll get rid of some of those people then to make some room. But, they leave and somebody else comes right behind them," Riviera said.  

Hooper added that he feels the same way about the situation.  

“The judges do what they can do as far as setting bond and allowing inmates to bond out, but a significant number of the criminals coming in are violent offenders and they can't be released on a personal recognizance bond. They have to make bond, if bond is set” Hooper said.  

And both sheriffs say, with continued challenges from the pandemic, they're going to keep adjusting.