Harris County and the City of Houston recently opened the Harris County/City of Houston Joint Processing Center (JPC), a facility that combines four different jail operations under one roof.
The new facility will expedite inmate booking and allow officers with the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to share resources.
Previously, Houston police booked suspects at two city jails and then transferred them within 48 hours to the Harris County Jail. The new facility frees up to 100 officers from jail duty and is projected to save more than $4 million in operating costs, according to a 2013 report on the JPC by Harris County and the City of Houston.
“This streamlined, expedited booking process is a true game-changer for Harris County law enforcement families,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “Every minute an officer spends escorting a prisoner through the intake process is another minute that they’re off the street keeping our neighborhood safe.”
During the facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that many people brought into the processing center need services such as mental health care, medical treatment, or detox, not jail. The new facility will provide the resources necessary to assess and divert these individuals to the appropriate service, he said.
The three-story facility spans 246,000 square feet and includes a digital booking system, county and municipal courtrooms, inmate holding cells, dormitories, and a clinic. Additionally, the facility will include diversion and re-entry programs that provide alternatives to incarceration.
The city and county both contributed to the facility’s construction. Bond funds for the $82 million facility were approved by county voters in 2013. The facility is located north of Buffalo Bayou downtown and near the county’s Baker Street Jail.