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Deputy Constable Dave Graham (left) and Sheriff Gary Cutler (right) discussing cite and release policy in Hays County.

Hays County sheriff candidates Gary Cutler and Dave Graham participated in a debate Jan. 12 at the Church of the Springs in Dripping Springs. Topics of discussion included cite-and-release, the Hays County Jail and various expected responsibilities for the sheriff position.

Deputy Constable Dave Graham is running against incumbent, Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler. Graham calls for strengthened leadership in Hays County, focusing on the accessibility of police resources for law enforcement agents. He indicated that Sheriff Cutler previously removed general access to the sheriff’s office’s evidence storage locker while calling for improved collaboration between departments.

Graham said Hays County’s growth brings expanded issues with crime, traffic and jail size in response to a question about the county’s biggest challenges.

“There are three big challenges: with our continued growth in infrastructure crime is going to be a problem, traffic safety concerns is going to be an issue and the continued over-crowding of the jail even after the $65 million dollar expansion was completed,” Graham said. “In the sheriff department we need to bring the staffing back up to full strength. For the jail, we need to make sure we are all doing cite and release. Establishing a mental health court and drug court will help those with substance abuse and mental illness to get them treatment and rehabilitation rather than incarceration.”

Sheriff Gary Cutler focused on emphasizing his previous experience working as sheriff for Hays for the past nine years. He maintains strong support of the second amendment, continued use of cite and release and a close working relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Cutler said the crowding of the Hays County Jail was not the result of a lack of cite and release programs but the majority of inmates being felons.

“Outsourced inmates have been a problem for a decade and a half. Today we have 540-something inmates,” Cutler said. “Ninety percent of those inmates are felons. Only 8% are misdemeanors. Thirty-something of them are in for murder. There’s no one in this county jail just for a marijuana cigarette. These people have earned their right to be in that jail, and we will keep them there. I had permitted cite and release the first six weeks I was in office. I’m a supporter of it.”

The Hays County 2020 Primary will be held March 3.

Future forum dates and a list of Republican candidates can be seen at the Hays County Republican Party website.

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