07/13/2009 - Out the 20th floor window of the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, the sprawl and elevation of buildings look like the campus of a law enforcement university, filling up the northeast corner of downtown. A juvenile justice center as big as a hospital. Two high-rise courthouses. An overrun booking tank. Beneath it all, tunnels run like veins through the complex, filled with inmates shuffling to hearings from the third biggest jail in America.
An average of 10,000 inmates were held per day in the Harris County Jail in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, not including an additional 1,100 bused six hours to and from northern Louisiana. With an average stay of 45 days in three drab detention facilities, the jail is consistently overcrowded.
State prisons aren't faring much better, with corrections nationwide costing more than $50 billion a year, according to a March report by the Pew Center on the States, called "One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections." The title comes from the ratio of people under some form of correctional control in the U.S.
Read the full article America's Jail Crisis on Forbes' Web site.