Welcome to Downtown; Don’t Pick Up Any Hitchhikers.


In what some enterprising capitalist thought was a neat idea, Houston’s Federal Detention Center is no longer going to be used for pretrial detainees, but rather for people who have already been sentenced. In other words, instead of a detention center it’s going to be a prison. Smack dab in the heart of downtown Houston.

This shouldn’t come as any big shock to anyone who has watched our county government planting jails on prime downtown waterfront property. Where Bexar County San Antonio (Texas’s next most populous city) has the Riverwalk, with restaurants, bars, and commerce, we have a monument to incarceration.

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0 responses to “Welcome to Downtown; Don’t Pick Up Any Hitchhikers.”

  1. Granted, it is germain to the argument about the logic of downtown detention facilities, but I think its important to be factual.

    County Populations as of Jan 1, 2007 according to the state data center (http://www.txsdc.utsa.edu/tpepp/2006_txpopest_county.php)

    Harris – 3,899,122
    Dallas – 2,359,595
    Tarrant – 1,690,517
    Bexar – 1,569,794

    Now back to the downtown jail issue. While it wont happen now that the county has built all the fancy courthouses, wouldn’t the courthouses need to move out to the hinterlands with the jails if the county did decide to move the jail facilities out to say Waller?

    Or is the number of inmates processed by the court system daily low enough that transportation wouldn’t be too daunting a task? Aren’t the current jails and courts all interconnected with tunnels and stuff?

  2. Quite right on the stats. I’ve corrected the post. Bexar County is much smaller than Dallas County, even though San Antonio recently passed Dallas County in population.

    There probably needs to be a jail near the courthouse for pretrial detainees — less than half of the HCJ population. The location of the courthouse (and its design) might be seen as a triumph of ego over public good. Or it may just be that when the courthouse and jails were planned nobody thought downtown had any life left in it.

  3. All I know is that UH Downtown needs some new architects. Their buildings look a lot like the jails.

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