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First Round of Jail Standards Review Deemed 'a Success'

By Laura Nicholes
TAC Legislative Staff

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) held its first formal workshop on Feb. 1 to discuss the first round of proposed changes to minimum jail standards. The commission, chaired by Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger, received written and verbal comment from statewide county official associations as well as individual county representatives and the public.

“The first workshop to review jail standards was a tremendous success. The commission appreciates the communication assistance received from TAC, CUC and the Texas Sheriffs' Association,” Klaeger said. “Our goal is to review standards by sections, compile input and continue to take comments throughout 2012.”

Klaeger went on to say that any changes in standards will not be retroactive and would only become effective after the commission reviews and recommends whether to proceed by posting the proposed changes in the Texas Register.

In-depth discussions on several issues, such as changing time increments for observing inmates from “hourly” to “60 minutes,” employee designations from “staff” to “jailer” and the authority of the commission to regulate inmate supervision outside the secure perimeter of the jail — along with the consequences or impact of such proposals — may receive further discussion by subcommittees appointed by the chair.

“It remains apparent that the intent of a standard is subject to a variety of interpretations; it is important that TCJS does not infringe on the authority of sheriffs to use their discretion,” Klaeger said. Positions of support and opposition on the majority of proposed changes were widely agreed upon by official offices and organizations.

Further Review
Comments for the second half review of the Texas Administrative Code, Chapters 267-301, are due by 5 p.m., April 13. The next TCJS workshop and quarterly meeting to address proposals in these chapters will take place May 2-3, 2012.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards workshops and quarterly meetings are now streamed live online and are available in the House of Representatives video archives.