After an inmate sexually assaulted a sergeant inside Harris County Jail on Monday, many people are concerned about conditions inside the facility.

How did it happen? And what is being done to secure the prison?

“I’ve had so many different feelings over the past two days, from anger to sickness to heartbreak,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference Wednesday morning. . “We’re going to do everything we can to improve that, to make sure our facilities are safe for our team members.”

CONTEXT: HCSO investigating report of sergeant sexually assaulted by county jail inmate

Harris County sheriff’s deputies say the sergeant’s beating and sexual assault inside the Baker Street Jail underscores the desperate need for more staff at the jail.

STAFF SHORTAGE AT HARRIS COUNTY PRISON

Sheriff Gonzalez confirmed it. He says that although all jobs are filled, the prison needs 550 to 700 new employees.

Harris County Jail is the largest jail in Texas and the third largest in the nation.

“We should have enough staff to make sure that not only our staff are safe, but that other inmates are safe. This goes hand in hand with the lawsuit we filed in September. Everything that was described in the lawsuit is happening now,” said David Cuevas President of the Harris County Deputies Organization.

Cuevas is referring to the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the Harris County Deputies Organization against Harris County leaders for understaffing and overwork.

MORE DETAILS: Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies Launch Major Lawsuit Against County Chiefs

“It’s unfortunate that we’re in this position, but that’s the way it is. All the aggressive behavior from inmates on staff, over 6,000 fights between inmates. We are not able to keep the security of the facility and we are unable to maintain the safety of our staff, as we saw with this brutal attack that happened against one of our sergeants, one of our sisters,” Cuevas said.” We heard from our detention staff. They called our union, crying, upset, shaken; and it rang loud and clear for us. They need help and no one is listening. We need the commissioners to do their job, provide us with the resources, the funding.”

Just last month, county commissioners approved the hiring of 100 jail staff, but the hundreds more Sheriff Gonzalez says they don’t need to be able to be hired as long as the sheriff’s office will not have obtained the go-ahead from the commissioners.

FOLLOWING: The deputy who works inside the Harris Co. jail speaks to FOX 26 following the recent inmate assault on the deputy

“We have explored the possibility of having to outsource again. We may need to consider out-of-state housing for some as a way to continue to attack aggressively until we can bring staffing to the necessary point. “, declares the sheriff.

Despite the shortage, Sheriff Gonzalez says they still meet the state’s minimum requirement of one worker per 48 inmates. He added that on Monday, when this veteran MP was violently attacked, there was one employee for every 42 detainees.

Additionally, the sheriff pointed out, the jail is currently listed as non-compliant after an inspection by the Texas Jail Commission that took place prior to the attack revealed issues with deputies missing observation rounds, cleanliness/sanitation and staffing.

The sheriff says they are working on a corrective plan.

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HIGH NUMBER OF HIGH RISK INMATES

Sheriff Gonzalez admits there are a number of issues at the county jail that may have played a role in Monday’s attack, including the jail operating at extremely high capacity, with more than 6,000 inmates believed to be at high risk.

“We’re probably seeing the highest number of serious offenders we’ve ever had,” the sheriff said.

In fact, Sheriff Gonzalez says there are currently 8,800 high- and medium-risk inmates in the Harris County Jail.

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Because the Covid-19 pandemic caused a slowdown in the courts, detainees stay longer.

“Keep in mind that these are remand individuals who live about 200 days. On average in the state, it’s about 60 days. County jails are not meant to be remand stays. long duration.”

Jeremiah Williams has been around longer.

WHY IS JEREMIAH WILLIAMS IN HARRIS COUNTY JAIL AND FOR HOW LONG?

Williams, who is charged with aggravated sexual assault in the sergeant’s brutal attack, has been held in Harris County Jail since September 2020.

He has been locked up for more than a year after attacking joggers in a park in northwest Houston.

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According to court records, Williams punched a jogger in the head and face until he knocked her to the ground where he straddled her and continued punching her in the face with both fists.

The documents also indicate that Williams asked the woman if she was married and if he could live with her. He then sexually assaulted her and asked her to watch his face as he assaulted her, according to court records. The victim has black eyes, a bloody nose and head wounds.

Just 20 minutes later, detectives say Williams attacked a second jogger in the same park, pushing her to the ground, groping her. Then he put his hand over her nose and mouth, choking her.

Officers say Williams tried to take his pants off, heard a noise nearby and ran away. According to court records, Williams confessed to smoking marijuana on the park trail and then attacking the women.

HOW DID JEREMIAH WILLIAMS GET TO HARRIS COUNTY SERGEANT?

On Monday, while still locked up in jail, detectives said Williams brutally beat and sexually assaulted the veteran Harris County sheriff’s deputy.

“We have, in my opinion, this is my own opinion, just a bad actor who took advantage of an opening,” Sheriff Gonzalez said. “[He] may have seen a loophole in the system and manipulated it to his advantage.”

The sheriff says Williams had gone to a Bible study class in jail, left early and went to the sergeant’s office and attacked her.

“What kind of church did he go to? Because right now we’re hoping he’s going to hell,” Cuevas says.

RELATED: HCSO Deputy was shot in the hand at Ben Taub Hospital by an inmate

The attack happened on the same floor where Williams is housed. The sheriff says that may be why Williams, who is considered a high-risk inmate, was not escorted.

“He’s such a dangerous person. We don’t want him in the community. Harris County deserves protection from someone like that. Honestly, the prison staff deserves protection from someone. one like that. He’s so dangerous,” says prosecutor Jamie Burro.

In court on Wednesday, Williams’ bond was increased to $3.5 million. He is now in solitary confinement in the jail as the sheriff’s office investigates why a high-risk offender, who is supposed to be escorted at all times, was walking around the jail unaccompanied by a deputy.

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