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He added that the increase was due to a combination of overcrowding and a booking delay caused by a new mental health screening form that led Sheriff Ron Hickman to put holds on accepting more busloads of inmates from HPD. Sullivan said the new mental health screening form — implemented at all Texas jails to better identify suicidal inmates following Sandra Bland's death — was redundant, because the Harris County jail already has licensed mental health doctors screening every inmate who comes through the door, and therefore caused lags.
What is most concerning to attorneys the Houston Press spoke with, however, is that those delays in the booking process may have led to violations of suspects' constitutional rights.
According to a review of jail booking records from July through August, more than 1, inmates waited at the city jail for three or more days before they were transferred to the Harris County jail. The problem with that, attorneys say, is that the Constitution requires all inmates be read their rights in front of a magistrate within 48 hours of being arrested.
There's a little room inmates can go to from the county jail where they visit with the magistrate via video — but that can't happen if they're stuck waiting at the HPD jail. That means some inmates may have waited nearly ten days, in some cases, before even being told: Here's what you're charged with, you have a right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, can you afford an attorney, can you afford this bail?
As well as other crucial questions. Harris County District Court Administrator Clay Bowman, who spoke while accompanied by an attorney, has assured the Press that there are other ways to make sure people are read their rights and given an affordable bail if they aren't able to attend their own probable cause hearing because of booking delays. He says firstly that inmates aren't even required to be at that hearing anyway and a judge can find probable cause with or without a defendant present.
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Bail can also be set with or without that hearing, and Bowman says Harris County Pretrial Services can interview people and conduct risk assessments at the city jail to help the magistrate assess whether someone qualifies for a personal bond, again whether or not they are present.
Last, Bowman says that it's possible for the city's justices of the peace to read people their rights while they are in HPD custody so that there are no constitutional violations. From the records the Houston Press has reviewed, it is impossible to say with certainty whether all of the above happened or did not happen in those hundreds of cases.
The Chatham County Sheriff's Department provides this booking and incarceration information without warranties, expressed or implied, concerning its accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability. The Chatham County Sheriff's Department assumes no liability for your use or misuse of this information.
You can view either the past 24 Hour Bookings or 72 Hour Bookings. This is done by contacting a bonding company who, for a fee, puts up a bond which guarantees that a person will appear at the next court date. The City of Houston has nothing to do with the contract between a defendant and the bonding company.
Houston Southeast Jail
The bonding company normally charges a fee for each bond posted. A person may request to be released on personal bond. Whether or not a person is released on personal bond is entirely up to the judge.