Trinity County concerned about lack of low-level crime punishment

Trinity County concerned about lack of low-level crime punishment
Trinity County Jail
Trinity County Jail

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Trinity Chief of Police said residents have voiced concern with a lack of punishment for repeat offenders in the county.  The county does have a jail of its own, but the capacity of that jail is what poses a problem.

"If you can't do the time, don't do the crime," is a phrase that Steven Jones said rarely applies in Trinity County. The public has questioned what appears to be "virtually no punishment for misdemeanor offenses."

"In Trinity County, law enforcement we know what's going on, the true criminal element knows, but the public doesn't know," Jones said. "They see those same people continue to mess up on their probation, use drugs, steal, and commit low classification crimes."

The Trinity County Jail was built in 1938.  It is able to hold inmates for long periods of time, but it only houses seven.

"That puts a real pinch on things," Jones said.

With a population of just over 14,000, the county must transport most of its inmates to an adjacent county, Houston County Jail. The cost to house one there is $32 per day. If a repeat low-level offender were to be sentenced to a year in jail, that long term stay comes out to nearly $12,000 for one person.

"That's a huge burden to the tax payers," Jones said.

Jones said the criminal element takes advantage of the issue.

"It's no advice to the criminal element. They know the game and how to play the system," Jones said. "We want the rules to be followed. You do something bad, you go away. It's not happening here."

Jones said this issue has come up in commissioner's court several times over the years, but it will require a long term solution.

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