HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — According to the Hays County Jail Dashboard, as of Monday, 562 people in the jail were being held with no conviction.
The jail’s population as of July 4 was 679 inmates.
According to the dashboard, the average length of stay at this time for pre-trial inmates was 104 days, and 4.3% were behind bars with no conviction for more than three years.
That’s been the case for inmates like Cyrus Gray. His father tells KXAN he’s been in jail for four years, charged with capital murder with no conviction.
Just this past week, his son’s trial started.
“This is not a game. This is people’s lives that have been affected,” Gray’s father said.
A group called the Hays County Jail Advocates said it launched the nonprofit as a response to these high numbers.
An organizer of the group, Amy Kamp, said they aim to shed light on racial disparities and excessively long pre-trial detentions in Hays County.
“80% of people in the Hays County Jail are there pre-trial. They haven’t been convicted,” Kamp said.
According to Luis Soberon, Policy Advisor with Texas 2036, Hays County has more pending cases now than it did before the pandemic.
“Generally, the time between an arrest and trial is getting longer and has been getting longer because of the pandemic and the backlog of cases,” Soberon said.
But, he said recently, the county seems to be clearing more cases than it’s getting in. Still, he said there’s more work to be done to address this issue that impacts both people inside and outside the jails.
“We’re glad that we’re here. Hoping that we can get a fair shake and get closure,” Gray’s father said.
Just this past April, Hays County commissioners allocated $5 million in funding for a public defender’s office.
Hays County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe told KXAN that commissioners are in the process of scheduling meetings with elected officials, staff and the firm that will run the public defender’s office to review and finalize the process.
Commissioner Ingalsbe said she didn’t have a definite timeline of when the firm would start taking clients; however, she hoped to have that information in the next few weeks.