High rate of pretrial detainees in McLennan County Jail - KXXV Central Texas News Now

MCLENNAN COUNTY

High rate of pretrial detainees in McLennan County Jail

MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX (KXXV) - There are more than 1,200 people behind bars in McLennan County, but most of them haven't been convicted of a crime and instead are awaiting trial.

The recent arrests of more than 170 bikers after the Twin Peaks shootout has brought to light the growing issue of incarceration and pretrial detention rates.

According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, McLennan County has the 4th highest incarceration rate in the state. That ranks higher than Dallas, Travis, and Harris Counties. As of May 1, more than 75-percent of those people are being held without ever being convicted of a crime.

Local defense attorney Michelle Tuegel recently posted an article called 'The Price of Freedom', where she highlights the growing problem of pretrial detentions.

“Even if it's only for a few days, that can result in a person losing their job, losing their homes because they can't pay their bills and they're evicted, losing custody of their children,” says Tuegel. “It has a lot of collateral consequences on people, their families and our community.”

Tuegel says one reason may be that defendants can't afford to bond out, especially if their bonds were set at a million dollars like the jailed bikers.

“The law says it's really not a one size fits all type of thing,” says Tuegel. ”I think that's what we're seeing now is that the DA's office, the defense attorney's and the judges are going back through and going through and making individualized decisions on what bond is appropriate for different people based on the facts and circumstances of that accused individual.”

The high pre-trial detention rates also costs tax payers money. On average, Texas spends about $59 a day to house an inmate, and they also pay to house people in the private Jack Harwell Detention Center.

The incarceration and pre-trial rates don't account for bikers jailed after the Twin Peaks shooting.

McLennan County Justice of the Peace Judge Fernando Villarreal wouldn't comment on the $1 million bonds set for the bikers, but says generally speaking, he doesn't believe bonds are to blame for high pretrial incarceration rates.

To help ease some of those pretrial detention numbers, a visiting judge will come to McLennan County Friday to conduct 14 more bond hearings.

So far, nearly a hundred bikers have been released from jail.

Local District Judges Matt Johnson and Ralph Strother met with Regional Presiding Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield Tuesday, to brainstorm a plan to expedite some of those remaining cases.

Click here to read Michelle Tuegel's full article.

Click here for the full Texas Commission on Jail Standards Incarceration Rates.


COUNTY

COUNTYWIDE POPULATION

INCARCERATION RATE

RANK BY STATE

McLennan

238,707
4.75

4

Limestone

23,585

4.68

9

Hill

35,115

4.38

12

Milam

24,157

3.76

30

Burelson

17,291

3.63

38

Brazos

200,665

3.00

72

Freestone

19,515

2.66

99

Grimes

26,783

2.51

116

Hamilton

8,307

2.47

120

Mills

4,828

2.26

136

Leon

16,803

2.14

152

Bell

323,037

2.1

158

Lampasas

20,107

1.97

173

Madison

13,677

1.91

178

Falls

17,610

1.89

183

Robertson

165,545

1.55

212

San Saba

6,002

1.42

223

Coryell

77,231

1.25

228

Powered by Frankly