County Approves Budget That Allocates for New Jail

$6.6 million going toward facility preconstruction

County Approves Budget That Allocates for New Jail

County commissioners on Tuesday took another step toward getting a new women's jail building, voting unanimously to approve a $1.09 billion county budget that includes $6.6 million in certificates of obligation for the facility's preconstruction. The meeting marked one year since criminal justice organizations learned of the county's $97 million innovative jail project and started pushing commissioners to instead focus on diversion. Unlike last year's budget hearing, which saw numerous advocates speak out against the funding, only two commented on this week's item. Chris Harris with Grassroots Leadership said he disagrees with the county's lack of "proper planning" and its usage of COs when other counties send jail projects to bond elections. "There is an understanding that this is not a popular idea in this community," Harris said. His colleague Holly Kirby noted that there is a long way to go but expressed appreciation for the county's partial funding for planning how to help a new opioid walk-in center address substance abuse. This led Commissioner Gerald Daugherty to express his extreme displeasure with the Austin Harm Reduction Coalition, which is opening the center, for clean needle illustrations on its website. The county's planning and budget staff said they plan to ask the court to approve the specific jail COs later this year or early next year.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More county jail
County Delays Funding for New Women’s Jail
County Delays Funding for New Women’s Jail
A surprising turn of events

Lindsay Stafford Mader, March 9, 2018

More by Lindsay Stafford Mader
Good News and Bad News for Neighbors of Austin Community Landfill
Good News and Bad News for Neighbors of Austin Community Landfill
County and operator at odds over expansion

Oct. 25, 2019

Will Austin's New Wildfire Code Be Enough?
Will Austin's New Wildfire Code Be Enough?
"The risk is bad"

Oct. 18, 2019


county jail, Chris Harris, Holly Kirby, Austin Harm Reduction Coalition

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle