New district attorney to tackle capacity issue at jail

By: Cassandra Garcia

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The jail is still at max capacity, and the new district attorney says he has a plan to improve the situation. 

Terry Palacios was sworn in as Hidalgo County’s new district attorney Monday. He was elected back in November. 

His nephew, Ricardo Rodríguez, previously held the position — but Palacios has now taken over.

One of the first items on his agenda is addressing the backlog of cases that’s filled up Hidalgo County's jail.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra previously told Channel 5 News that the jail filled up when the pandemic started and the court system stopped. 

"When COVID started we started filling up the jail, and so we stopped accepting the defendants that were sentenced to weekend time and starting next week we will have those inmates back and reporting on the weekends to serve their time in county jail," Guerra said. 

The situation is improving, beds have started to become available now that the court system is back to normal operations.

 "We're not as bad as we were as far as our overcrowded situation," Guerra said. "Our booking cells are now not that full, so we are in-compliance."

But the jail is still at maximum capacity, more space is needed. 

"We are still renting beds in Brooks County, Jim Hogg County and Starr County and right now we have approximately a little less than 400 inmates in those three facilities," Guerra said. 

Palacios says it is a problem he plans to tackle now that he has taken over as Hidalgo County District Attorney. 

"We're looking at doing what is called a 'rocket docket' where you get somebody indicted right away, trying to look at all the misdemeanors that you can push out as soon as possible," Palacios said. 

Palacios says it is also about making information easily accessible. 

"Trying to digitalize everything that comes from Mercedes all the way to Sullivan City, so it's gonna be easier to get to the courthouse," Palacios said. "So that's what we're trying to do, just to catch up on the backlog for now because of our COVID situation."


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