In a state as large as Texas, there are hundreds of different county jails. There are 24 counties in the state, and 252 county jails to be exact. Only a couple of counties share their jails.

When it comes to violence in these jails, you would think they'd be the least to experience it. County jails are usually the lowest security type of jails because they don't typically house violent criminals. They tend to house them in state prisons.

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It doesn't mean there isn't violence that happens inside the county jails. Some of the inmates housed in these county jails have already been convicted of their crime and that's where they were assigned to serve out their sentence.

However, a majority of the inmates at the county jails are people still awaiting trial. They are innocent until proven guilty, and in most cases, shouldn't necessarily be held to the same standards and punishments as those who have been convicted of a crime.

Yes, they're still supposed to follow the rules of the jail while they're in there, but they shouldn't have to incur the same level of punishment from guards or violence from inmates. Sadly, this doesn't turn out to be the case.

So I got curious and looked up which county jail was the most dangerous in Texas. I fully expected it to be somewhere like Houston or San Antonio if I'm being honest, but the level of shock I felt when I found out which one it was threw me off.

WHICH COUNTY JAIL IS THE MOST DANGEROUS IN TEXAS?

That honor, well, distinction, goes to Hays County Jail. If you don't know, Hays County is near Austin, TX., and calls the cities of Kyle & San Marcos, among others, part of their county. I lived in Kyle for 7 1/2 years, and let me tell you how quiet and easy-going it is there. I would've never expected to see Hays County Jail as the most dangerous.

WHAT MAKES IT SO DANGEROUS?

Hays County Jail picked up this distinction because of its rate of force incidents inside the jail. Correctional officers inside jails use force to maintain order with the jail population, keep people safe, and enforce the law.

Approximately a year ago, inmate Joshua Wright died after correctional officer Isaiah Garcia shot Wright multiple times in the back. Wright was shackled and receiving medical attention at Seton Hospital when he attempted to escape. A scuffle ensued when Garcia was removing handcuffs so Wright could use the restroom, and that ultimately resulted in Garcia discharging his weapon multiple times.

This sadly brought to light the kind of force being used with people associated with Hays County Jail.

HOW MANY FORCE INCIDENTS OCCUR AT THE JAIL?

According to the numbers, Hays County Jail has an average of just over 78 force incidents per 1000 inmates. That number is far and above second place on the list, Wichita County Jail, which experiences 61 force incidents per 1000 inmates.

17 more incidents on average is an absolutely staggering number and makes Hays County Jail far and away the most dangerous place to be if you're an inmate in a county jail.

FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT

Cyrus Gray is a former inmate at Hays County Jail. He spent four years at the facility and said force incidents are actually encouraged within the confines of the jail. He stated he felt it was largely because of the leadership and just a general culture of promoting violence within the jail.

Gray also told the University Star that force was often the first reaction of the correctional officers inside the jail. “It’s not a situation where there’s ever an incident and they come in and try to deescalate the situation and try to calm a situation or talk it down… They’re coming in and trying to hurt somebody,” Gray stated.

He wrote a letter to the Hays County Sheriff and Hays County Judge after an incident where he was jumped by some of the guards, the aforementioned Garcia being one of them. Gray said his grievance complaints were simply dismissed and no action was taken.

WHERE DO COMPLAINTS AND GREIVANCES GO?

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra says when a complaint comes in from the jail, it gets investigated by three different groups. Those groups are the Sheriff's Department, the county judge, and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Becerra said, “The sheriff is supposed to address it because they are hands-on in that space. Folks have reached out to my office and I have followed up and very often the [complaints] do make their way to the state as well.”

In Gray's case, it was essentially brushed off by the sheriff stating "that Cyrus Gray is a known liar and he’s just looking for attention,” according to Cyrus.

SO WHAT NEXT?

That is anyone's guess at this point. If the state feels additional training needs to be done with correctional officers, a review of how things are handled within the jail, etc. then I'm sure it'll be done. However, there is no word as to what is going to be done about the issues inside Hays County Jail.

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Gallery Credit: Toni Gee, Townsquare Media

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