Texas is a beautiful state of the United States that includes 254 counties housing over 30 million residents. Harris County has the largest population of all the counties, while Lovely County has the lowest.
Texas has been ranked the best state for both workforce and business; however, the sad part is the crime rate. In every 100,000 Texans, at least 840 are held for various crimes, but how many prisons are there in Texas to keep these inmates?
The state represents a total of 104 prisons, including federal and state prisons and other correctional institutes.
Prisons in Texas
Holding the highest percentage of prisons and prisoners around the country, Texas is the largest state in the US regarding the prison system. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice manages 87 of the state's 104 prison/jail facilities. These prisons also serve as a great job source for the Texans.
Federal Prisons in Texas
Texas has 18 federal prisons and nine federal prison camps. Each of these facilities comes under the Federal Bureau of Prisons, South Central Regional Office's jurisdiction in Grand Prairie, Texas. These prison institutes in Texas range from minimum to maximum security levels. Following is the list of prisons categorized based on security levels.
Minimum Security Level Federal Prisons
- FCI La Tuna Camp, Anthony, Texas
- FCI Big Spring Camp, Big Spring, Texas
- FCI Bastrop Camp, Bastrop, Texas
- FCI Beaumont Camp, Beaumont, Texas
- FCI Seagoville Camp, Seagoville, Texas
- FCI Three Rivers Camp, Three Rivers, Texas
- FCI Texarkana Camp, Texarkana, Texas
- FMC Carswell Camp, Fort Worth, Texas
- FPC Bryan, Bryan, Texas
Low-Security Level Federal Prisons
- FCI La Tuna, Anthony, Texas
- FSL La Tuna, Anthony, Texas
- FCI Beaumont Low, Beaumont, Texas
- FCI Bastrop, Bastrop, Texas
- FCI Big Spring, Big Spring, Texas
- FCI Seagoville, Seagoville, Texas
- FCI Texarkana, Texarkana, Texas
High to Medium Level Security Federal Prisons
- FCI Three Rivers, Three Rivers, Texas
- FCI Beaumont Medium, Beaumont, Texas
- USP Beaumont, Beaumont, Texas
Administrative Level Security Prisons
- FDC Houston, Houston, Texas
- FMC Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas
- FMC Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas
State Prisons in Texas
A total count of 61 state jails are located in Texas, with each falling under the power of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The largest state prison managed by the TDCJ is the Coffield Unit, which can house over 4,000 prisoners. Meanwhile, the Christina Crain Unit is the largest female state prison in Texas and can hold more than 2,000 female prisoners.
The first state jail of Texas, i.e., Texas State Penitentiary, was constructed in Huntsville, Texas 1848. The unit provides a capacity of over 1700 inmates with its 225 prison cells. Huntsville, a small city in Walker County to live an affordable quality life, is said to be the prison capital of Texas State and the Home of the Texas State Penitentiary. The city represents seven prisons, including two federal prisons.
Prisoners in Texas
In Texas State, the crime rate is 4.6 crimes per 1000 residents, while Louisiana has the highest crime rate in the US, with 26.7 incidents per 1000 people. An average of 200 thousand residents are incarcerated yearly in Texas.
On the contrary, every year, a significant count of around 78,000 inmates are also released from local jails, state and federal prisons, immigration detention, juvenile detention centers, and other correctional institutions.
As of 2023, Texas State holds approximately 133,772 offenders in various prison facilities, which is a positive sign. There were 158,429 inmates in local jails and 61 state prisons in 2019, showing a decrease. Meanwhile, 367,753 and 109,159 people were serving as probationers and parolees, respectively.
Harris County Jail, Texas
The Harris County Jail is the major prison of the state, with an approximate capacity of ten thousand prisoners. It is the third largest jail in the United States, with Los Angeles County Jail being first on the list.
It also serves as the biggest mental health care and psychiatric facility in Texas State as it assists a large chunk of inmates with mental issues in the jail. Despite a large space for inmates, the prison has nearly reached its maximum capacity.
Polunsky Unit, Texas
The Polunsky Unit carries out the death row in Texas, and the Texas State Penitentiary controls the state execution. The death row was moved to the Polunsky Unit by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 1999, as before that, the Ellis Unit held it.
However, the death row and state execution were both primarily controlled by the Huntsville Unit.
Challenges in Texas Prisons
Besides being a beautiful state, Texas is a high-temperature state. The temperature can reach up to 110 degrees F and even more during heatwaves. Such a situation makes the lives of inmates a living hell, especially when the prisons don't provide air-conditioning facilities.
It is disappointing that only 29 of the 104 prisons in Texas are air-conditioned, which means almost 3/4th of the state's prisons need air conditioners. The high temperature with extreme conditions has been a cause of inmates' sudden deaths, which is quite an alarming situation.
Q1: What is the biggest prison in Texas?
Of all the 104 prisons in Texas State, the Harris County Jail is the biggest unit in Texas. It is also the third-largest prison in the United States.
The Harris County jail houses a maximum of 10,000 offenders, with 1/4th of its population dealing with psychiatric problems. And for them, it serves as Texas's largest mental care institution.
Q2: Where is death row in Texas?
The death row in Texas is currently under the control of the Polunsky Unit. The unit provides separate single-person cells for inmates sentenced to death row.
The death row and state execution were previously at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. It was then handled by the Ellis Unit and, in 1999, was handed over to Polunsky Unit. However, the execution is still managed by the Walls Unit.
Q3: What is a level 5 prison in Texas?
A level 5 prison in Texas is the one with the highest security level prison, i.e., Administrative Security Prisons. Prisoners in level-5 jails are incarcerated in separate single-person cells for 23 hours a day.
They must be kept in maximum security and armed supervision to avoid mishaps, as they are charged with the most dangerous crimes like murders.
To summarize everything, Texas represents the largest prison system in the United States, proving the significance of its Criminal Justice System in the country. However, the question "How many prisons are there in Texas" goes beyond mere numbers.
With its 104 prisons (both federal and state), local jails, and other correctional facilities, the system is still dealing with challenges, including high incarceration and crime rate and extreme heat with inadequate facilities.
It is now very crucial for the authorities to look for effective solutions to control the crime rate and work towards a fair justice system for better rehabilitation of offenders.
Read more related articles;