The Travis County Sheriff's Office is developing a 10-year multi-million-dollar master plan that will revamp the county's aging correctional facilities and include an all-female correctional facility. Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said the department has seen an increase in female inmates with higher crimes and is working to facilitate their needs.
"So the buildings are aging it, it's becoming harder and harder to keep them in ADA compliance," Travis County Sheriff Hernandez said. "Putting all of the women in the same building would help us divert resources to that female population that desperately needs them
According to a needs analysis conducted in 2014, both men and women are housed in the same buildings which can pose a safety risk and does not accommodate medical needs and services the of the female population needs.
The master plan was proposed to the Travis County Commissioners court in March and has been postponed for a year so the county can evaluate diversion programs. Sheriff Hernandez added there are current programs in place and the department is working on more but since the male population outweighs the women’s most of the resources go to the men.
“Putting all of the women in the same building would help us divert resources to that female population that desperately needs them,” said Hernandez.
Men and women need different services. For example, Hernandez said in 2017 the correctional facility had anywhere from 16 to 30 women pregnant and needed consistent medical services.
More than 2,500 inmates are housed in the correctional facility. Hernandez said with the increase in people moving to the county and with multiple law enforcement agencies arresting and booking people every day more and more people are being detained. Hernandez explained that the facility will not have more beds but instead reconstruct day to day operations and make resources more available to the inmates.
TSCO created an advisory board made up of more than a dozen, former inmates, medical professionals and Correctional facility experts to help advise the department as they move forward in providing female environments with a safe environment.
“As the Sheriff, I have very little say as to who they bring into the jail and I have even less to say on who’d released from the jail. But what I do have a say over is how they are treated and how they are cared for and that is something that is very, very important to me,” said Hernandez.