Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Jail Contract Part 1 - Sheriff Wiles

As I mentioned previously Commissioners Court lack of action on the jail contract has a lot of really surprising revelations about some of our community leaders that advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

Frankly a lot of it has been missed, so I am going to do a deep dive over the next few days going over what statements have been made regarding local leaders saying out of one side of their mouth that they oppose SB4 but in practice they further Trump's vision of the border rather than combat it.

The fact that they have issues within their control and kick the can down the road is disappointing and shows politics and emotion are more important at times that the human being being affected by their inaction.

Lets start with Sheriff Wiles' opposition to ending the jail contract with the federal government in which El Paso County incarcerates more undocumented immigrants than another other county in the state of Texas. The lion's share of which are there for charges related to immigration according to the data released by Commissioner Perez's office.

And by lion's share, I mean about 70% of them.

And by El Paso County, I mean the county that says they oppose measures in SB4 that require local law enforcement to enforce immigration law but is apparently completely okay with that local law enforcement housing the undocumented at a rate much higher than any other county in the state.

Lets start with something I don't think anyone caught but should be shocking to the community. Commissioner Perez asked Sheriff Wiles, long recognized as an advocate for CIR how long he's known that 70% of the federal inmates in his jail were undocumented immigrants.

His answer was nothing short of mind-blowing.

He didn't know. Not until Perez's data showed it according to Wiles' own testimony at commissioners court. Don't believe me?

Roll the tape...

The fact that our county sheriff, by his own admission, doesn't appear to have a strong grasp of the federal prisoners housed in the jail he's responsible for looks REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad. What is even more scary, is the fact that the federal inmates all apparently get a blanket designation of medium security.


Well based on what they said at the commissioners court meeting...because its easier for them (the SO). If they are all medium security then they can be housed with low risk or high risk offenders. So you may have some people that are basically low risk like a non-violent undocumented immigrant housed with someone who may be in reality a high risk offender like a cartel member, all housed together as medium, because its easier?

Cost of Housing Inmates

Perez's other big gripe about the federal contract is the fact that the County of El Paso is losing money on the deal. Now for some odd reason, this is something Escobar has chosen to dispute, though she provides no proof in the least that Perez is wrong. I'll get to her in another post, lets stay with Wiles for now.

Perez says that the records indicate that it costs the County of El Paso $89 per day/per inmate for housing but the feds only give us $80 per day/per inmate. Perez rightly questions Sheriff Wiles why we told the federal government we needed to be getting $89 per day/per inmate during the negotiations but we are okay with $80 now.

I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Sheriff Wiles' answer to the question. You'll notice he pauses at first, then puts it on the Court. Perez says Wiles was at the negotiations and Wiles downplays the role of the SO as merely a resource. He likens negations to making a deal on a car.

Well if it costs us $89 per day/per inmate and we are only getting $80 per day/per inmate...

That means we bought a lemon.

The Downtown Jail - A Taxpayer-funded Money Pit

Later Commissioner Perez questions Sheriff Wiles about the wisdom of keeping the downtown jail open. There are revelations in this testimony that somehow didn't make the news, but should really concern you as a tax payer.

First of all, we paid for an expansion of the jail annex through certificates of obligation. The bottom-line from what I can tell in this video is that once the jail annex expansion is complete we will have a local average daily population of about 54% according to Perez.

In other words, only about HALF of the inmates will be local people. The tax payers will have spent MILLIONS of dollars for a facility that will only be half-full of local inmates.

We built more way more than we need.

Which means we spent way more than we should.

There's no way for anyone to spin out of that. We have more jail than we need and we paid way more than we should have.

The downtown jail is less efficient than the annex. I won't bore you with the details but because the downtown facility is built like a sky scraper and the annex is built out, instead of up, it takes less jailers to watch more inmates, so its more efficient. The downtown jail is a 30 year old building. It still has asbestos, its not ADA compliant. Its ll floors and needs major pluming overhauls. Four floors will be closed.

The sheriff wants to keep it open and doesn't want the court, according to Perez's testimony, to even explore more efficient options to give tax payers a break.

I get why. He's trying to save a bunch of jobs for the jailers. But seriously, its now the taxpayers job to subsidize their employment unnecessarily - and if we are employing a bunch of them that we may not need, then its a tough conversation that needs to be had.

This major issue was kicked down the road instead of being dealt with.

Take not of the fact that it was County Judge Veronica Escobar and Commissioner David Stout that led the charge to keep this bad policy in place. And while the two led the charge to keep this bad contract intact, they did so by basically saying they didn't trust Perez's data.

They don't have data on their own. They had access to the same data Perez did his analysis on, Escobar since she was Commissioner Escobar, and have done ABSOLUTELY nothing to improve the situation.

And while they are trying to act like they were blindsided by this issue, which is absolute bullshit, they all have known about the possible implications. Count how many times during the meeting they make reference to strategic planning. So this didn't hit them out of left field. They've known about it and have done nothing but shit on Perez's data.

What is their plan to deal with situation? They have none. The two biggest opponents to SB4 on the Court are entirely okay with El Paso housing more undocumented immigrants than any other county in the state of Texas. They offer no plan to fix the situation. Instead when they had the chance to act on it, they kicked it down the road.

And a lot of what they are saying about it can be debunked. Its been several days since that meeting and no one has disputed any of the data since the meeting in front of cameras.

More on that in Part 2...

1 comment:

Carl M Starr said...

Wiles was upset at the Public Defenders Office defending the undocumented is what one News reported.

I was shocked at BNHR caving on the Detainer issue. Goes to show no one owns a issue.

Half the Western States do not accept Detainers without a Judicial Warrant.

We will see what Fed Judge Sparks will do Thursday. I expect or hope he finds no Jurisdiction.