Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is going into new territory with a policy that dictates how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inmates are treated.
The new policy allows LGBT inmates to be housed based on the gender they identify with as opposed to their actual sex. Major Debra Schmidt of the Harris County Sheriff's Office explains why the policy was adopted.
“We saw opportunities to do the right thing and build a community of respect within our jail system,” Schmidt said.
But Brandon Wood of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards says there's more to it.
“They have implemented this policy to comply with the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act,” Wood told KTRH.
Ultimately, Wood says it’s up to Harris County.
“As long as it ensures a safe facility, it is a local decision,” Wood said.
Schmidt told KTRH the policy will have an impact on their bottom line.
“This will also save us money. It will save taxpayers money,” she explained.
Bui Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officer's Union doesn't agree with that.
“This will be expensive. You’re looking at significant increases in budgets needed to expand facilities to house each individual person,” Hunt explained.
Harris County is the first in Texas to adopt this kind of policy.