Back when the county jail here housed maybe three women, jailers didn’t have to worry much about contraband mascara, tampon shortages or raunchy love notes in the intra-inmate mail.
But over the past decade, the number of female inmates in this rural jail northwest of Austin has surged. Instead of three women, the Burnet County Jail now houses as many as 140.
The situation here is an extreme example of a statewide trend. Across Texas, the number of women awaiting trial in county jails has jumped by 48 percent since 2011, according to an analysis of state data by The Dallas Morning News. At the peak this year in August, more than 6,300 women were jailed before trial, up from under 4,000 in early 2011.