County contracts with Brazos, Bell for juvenile detention


Gonzales County on Nov. 14 agreed to additional contracts for secure, short-term detention services for juvenile offenders with both Brazos and Bell County during their regular meeting.

The reason for contracting with those counties and six others — San Patricio, Fort Bend, Hays, Guadalupe, Victoria and Grayson — is a statewide shortage of available juvenile detention beds that has counties scrambling to find space, officials said.

While the cost to house an adult offender in another county can range from between $50 per day to $75 per day, based on contract rates, the cost to house a juvenile inmate can run between $100 per day to as much as $250 per day. It especially costs more to house juveniles who have already been tried and convicted of an offense as there are certain services that must be provided to those who have already been prosecuted.

Gonzales County Judge Pat Davis said the costs are higher for housing juvenile inmates than adult offenders due to specific state requirements that must be met when taking care of younger offenders. Also, he said there are fewer counties in the state who accept and house other counties’ juvenile offenders.

“We’ve had a bunch of juvenile detention (offenders) who have come in and we’ve had no beds to put them in and some of these offenders really need to go to detention until they can get a plan in place for them,” Davis said. “Putting them on a (electronic) monitor is just not like putting them in a facility.”

“Our juvenile probation department works really hard, but sometimes they need places to put kids because there really is no other place to put them,” added County Attorney Paul Watkins, whose office prosecutes criminal offenses by both adults and minors.

Commissioners also voted to reappoint Gonzales County Emergency Services District No. 1 commissioners Rene De La Garza, Linda Carter and Tony Stone to a two-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and ending Dec. 31, 2024.